Genetic scorecard secures innovation award

A project involving SRUC has won the 2020 Innovation Award at RSPB’s Nature of Scotland Awards.

Led by the Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh and Scottish Natural Heritage and involving a range of partners, the project saw SRUC scientists help to develop methods to measure biodiversity at the genetic level.

The ‘scorecard’ designed by the initiative, which was funded as a SEFARI Gateway Think Tank, is designed to look at genetic diversity in a wider range of plants and animals – beyond crop varieties and livestock breeds – than is normally the case.

This wider range of species encompasses other organisms that are of social and cultural value and are important in ecosystem service provision, rather than just for ‘production’ purposes.

Professor Eileen Wall, one of the SRUC scientists involved, said: “The scorecard is important because it can be used to report on the state of genetic diversity in a very broad range of organisms in a pragmatic manner. So far, the initiative has looked at 26 species for Scotland, ranging from heather to the Scottish wildcat, and includes some of the nation’s most iconic species.”

Dr Ian Dawson, another SRUC scientist who was part of the Think Tank, added: “Not only can the scorecard be used to measure Scottish biodiversity, but it may also act as a model that can be adopted by other countries to quantify genetic diversity in a broad range of organisms.

“If the approach can become an international standard, as intended, then this will address an important gap in current biodiversity reporting. For example, much of my work is in Kenya, and it would be useful to see if the approach can be adopted there and in neighbouring countries.”

Find out more about RSPB's Nature of Scotland Awards.

Posted by SRUC on 30/11/2020

Tags: Awards, Research, Climate and Environment
Categories: Sustainability | SRUC and Campuses