Genome sequencing necessary to bring back the heath hen would not have been possible to launch without all of these advisors
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Heath Hen Project Key Advisor
Tom Chase is serving as a key advisor to Revive & Restore on the Heath Hen Revival Project. Tom directs the conservation strategies for the Massachusetts chapter of The Nature Conservancy and was one of the panelists at Revive & Restore’s Heath Hen Event in July 2014 which brought the idea of a heath hen de-extinction to the Martha’s Vineyard community. Born and raised on Martha’s Vineyard, Tom brings a deep understanding of land-use change to the conservation of Massachusetts’s coasts, including making residential landscapes more supportive of essential ecological processes. Tom has a B. S. in Zooarchaeology from the University of Florida and an M.S. in Quaternary paleoecology from the University of Maine. His areas of expertise and interest include Martha’s Vineyard and Nantucket Island, ecological restoration, conservation entrepreneurship, conservation education and community engagement, island ecology, archaeology, and climate change. Tom grew up hearing first-hand accounts of the heath hen and as child fantasized he might one day find them in a hidden corner of the Vineyard.
Heath Hen Project Partners
Dan Snyder has owned and operated Grouse Park since 1978, breeding grouse and other birds for several conservation projects. For Revive & Restore, he constructed specialized lekking pens — where the males gather to engage in competitive display that may entice visiting females who are surveying prospective breeding partners. He established a flock of 10 Greater Prairie Chickens, or 3 lekking groups, in October 2015 These birds provided 72 of eggs in a single season, surpassing our goal of 40 eggs. From these eggs, Crystal Bioscience, has begun the work of creating the primordial germ cells that eventually will lead to the de-extinction of the Heath Hen.
A team at Crystal Bioscience, led by Marie-Cecile van de Lavoir, is working on the task of establishing the germ-cell resources necessary for genome editing. Fifty percent of the eggs Crystal Bioscience received from Grouse Park produced embryos for harvesting germ cells. If the team is able to successfully edit the genomes of these germ cells, then some day soon, greater prairie chickens could be laying fertile Heath Hen eggs, and the first extinct bird would return to the world.