Our GE3LS (Genomic, Ethical, Environmental, Economic, Legal, Social) program ensures that priority species will be studied, and robust policy recommendations for responsible use of genomics particularly for those in the sub-Arctic and Arctic where climate change is already having a profound impact on wildlife and vegetation will be developed. The resultant genomes will be freely available, and we will populate the database being developed to store and provide easy access to geospatial information and metadata on the samples to non-expert parties.
Our goal is to bridge the conservation genomics gap. We will achieve this through massive knowledge mobilization activities between genomics scientists, ex situ species managers, conservation practitioners, ecologists, biologists, zookeepers, museum curators and beyond. To disseminate the deliverables, we will direct communications to and invite participation from a wide spectrum of rights holders and stakeholders. Our partnership already includes broad representation and partners are widely and deeply connected with the academic, governmental, intergovernmental and private sector groups that desire improved access to and understanding of the potential for genomics to support environmental decision making, maintenance of biodiversity, wildlife conservation and an environmentally and economically sustainable future. We have a wide range of expertise that supports dissemination across Canada, internationally and to a diverse group of potential end users.
There is growing recognition that genome-based tools have a significant place in addressing knowledge gaps related to resource management, evolution, viability, adaptation and disease in an at- risk species. The foundational requirement for most genomic tools is a high-quality reference genome. Powerful advances in genome sequencing technology, informatics, automation, and artificial intelligence have made these tools more affordable and accessible.
Identify species that would most benefit from genomic information.
Perform sequencing, assembly and annotation of the genomes and make them freely available to the expert end-user community.
Provide policy recommendations for species conservation including strategies that include protected natural environments as well as locations away outside of them, such as within zoos.
In addition, through our GE3LS program, conduct case studies with end users to identify and prioritize which genomics-based tools will be most useful in support of their efforts in conservation of species at risk, environmental monitoring and for ecosystem-based efforts to maintain biodiversity, manage, conserve and restore species.
Canada possesses significant biodiversity, with ~80,000 plant and animal species in environments ranging from desert to the arctic. Many of these species are under threat due to rapid changes in climate and other human-led impacts on our environment.
The 2015 federal Wild Species report, which assessed ~27,500 Canadian species, identified ~6 per cent (1,659 species) as “May Be at Risk” in Canada
As of 2017-18, the Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada’s (COSEWIC) assessments included 771 wildlife species in various risk categories; 18 assessed as extinct.
Assessments by Indigenous Peoples in Canada also reflect systemic change— Inuit report declining abundance, health and populations in several species.