Genetics and Conservation

Meet the Genetics and Conservation Team

Dr Antje Ahrends, Head of Genetics and Conservation

My research focuses on biodiversity conservation in the face of global environmental change. I am using field data combined with large-scale environmental datasets, GIS, and modelling approaches to study the distribution of biodiversity and ecosystem services, and to assess the impact of global change.

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Dr Aline Finger, Molecular Ecologist

My research focus is conservation and ecological genetics of threatened and important plant species. I’m using a combination of genetic and ecological methods to help their protection and to inform conservation and management decisions. My aim is to ensure that our conservation efforts lead to species’ persistence as self-sustaining, viable populations in the wild.

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Martin Gardner, ICCP coordinator

For more than 25 years I have worked at RBG Edinburgh on many aspects of conifer conservation and currently I co-chair the IUCN Conifer Specialist Group. I also co-ordinate the International Conifer Conservation Programme.

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Dr Robert Mill, Research Associate

I retired from my position as Gymnosperm Systematist at RBGE in 2018 but am now a RBGE Research Associate. I am currently revising genera of Podocarpaceae, particularly Podocarpus and Prumnopitys.

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Dr Linda Neaves, Geneticist

My research uses genomic tools to address a range of species management and conservation based problems for plants and animals, including species identification and discrimination, population structure and history as well as phylogenetics. I am also interested in the development of methods to obtain information from degraded samples, such as environmental DNA, herbarium and museum samples and detection of trace DNA to provide new insights into species ecology and interactions. Current projects include understanding the diet of Giant Panda and the bamboos they rely on.

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Dr Markus Ruhsam, Molecular Ecologist

I am a botanist with over 30 years of experience in plant identification who also uses genetic tools to study and understand plant diversity. The combination of morphological and molecular techniques is a powerful approach to investigate evolutionary processes which, for instance, has led to the discovery of a new species of monkey puzzle trees (Araucaria) in New Caledonia by RBGE and collaborators.  A particular interest of mine are the processes which shape and change plant populations over time (phylogeography).

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Nadia Russle, PhD candidate
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Philip Thomas, ICCP Scientific Officer

My research interests focus on conifers of mainland Southeast Asia and New Caledonia as well as the impacts of climate change. I am also the Coordinator for the IUCN Conifer Redlist Authority.

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David O’Brien, Research Associate

I manage NatureScot's (SNH) Evidence and Reporting, and Terrestrial Vascular Plant teams. This includes conservation of wild plants, and development and production of indicators such as Ecosystem Health Indicators and Convention on Biological Diversity reports. This work relies heavily on citizen science. I work with colleagues on conservation of genetic diversity, urban biodiversity and evidence-based conservation.

My first collaboration with RBGE was as part of the team developing a world first genetic diversity indicator for wild species. We used a scorecard approach for wild species of cultural and socio-economic importance to promote long-term conservation of genetic diversity.

I am interested forest management, and in particular opportunities for multiple benefits from woodlands: economic, social and biodiversity conservation. I have also study the interaction between non-native species and novel pests and pathogens. Our work analyses the implications of introducing additional tree species for commercial or conservation purposes.

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