The Paradoxical Passenger Pigeon Genome

By Passenger Pigeon
Image credit: Tim Hough Natural selection shaped the rise and fall of passenger pigeon genomic diversity The passenger pigeon (Ectopistes migratorius) numbered between 3 billion and 5 billion individuals before its 19th-century decline and eventual extinction. In fact, the species was abundant for tens of thousands of years before being relentlessly hunted down to the very last bird. Scientists have long wondered why a bird with such a large population only decades before its extinction disappeared so quickly and so completely, without leaving even a small population behind. "Natural Selection Shaped the Rise and Fall of Passenger Pigeon Genomic Diversity,"a recently...
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New Book on Woolly Mammoth De-extinction

By De-Extinction, Woolly Mammoth
Revive & Restore plays a role in Ben Mezrich’s new book WOOLLY – soon to be a feature film directed by Oscar Sharp. The book reads like a novel, but it tells the story of real characters and real events.  George Church at Harvard Medical School built a team of brilliant genome engineers to work on editing enough woolly mammoth genes into  living elephant genomes to potentially recreate living woolly mammoths. Revive & Restore introduced George Church to the extraordinary Russian scientist Sergey Zimov, who has started a project in northern Siberia called “Pleistocene Park,” which is using wild grazing...
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The Great Comeback Down Under

By De-Extinction, Passenger Pigeon
Ben Novak – Revive & Restore's Lead Researcher for The Great Passenger Pigeon Comeback – is pursuing his Ph.D. at Monash University in Melbourne, Australia. There, he will be working with scientists from Australia's Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO) to develop a model system for testing genome editing in pigeons. Novak was awarded the Faculty Graduate Research International Scholarship and the Co-funded Monash Graduate Scholarship to fund his research. This exciting phase of collaboration between Revive & Restore and CSIRO began in May 2017. Novak aims to produce a strain of rock pigeons capable of making genome engineering in pigeons...
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The Plan to Restore a Mosquito-Free Hawaii

By Genetic Rescue
Revive & Restore and the Hawaii Exemplary State Foundation convened 42 scientists, policymakers, and community organizers from key conservation organizations and government agencies in September 2016 to explore strategic approaches to eliminate from Hawaii mosquito-borne diseases, which harm human health and local biodiversity. Their recommendations formed the basis of a recently published white paper – "Restoring a Mosquito-Free Hawaii" – that will be an essential document for promoting and pursuing the next steps in achieving the suppression and (hopefully) the elimination of mosquito-borne diseases on the Hawaiian Islands. (Scroll down to the bottom of the page to read the report in full.)...
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The Rousing of an 11-Year-Old De-Extincter!

By Passenger Pigeon

A big part of what we do at Revive & Restore is bring together scientists conducting cutting-edge genomics research with the conservationists who are working in the field so that these new technologies may become an instrumental part of the twenty-first century conservation tool kit. The efforts we take to be active on social media, to engage with journalists covering conservation issues, and to jump start key genetic rescue projects mean that the ideas of genetic rescue and de-extinction are becoming part of the conservation conversation. What we didn’t realize is that our work could be so profoundly inspiring to…

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Dodo Bird De-extinction? The Dialogue Has Begun in the Island Nation of Mauritius

By De-Extinction

By Ben J. Novak “Gone the way of the Dodo” is the all-too-common sigh of remorse uttered when another species joins the growing list of recent extinctions. The last Dodo bird died on the island of Mauritius (located about 1,200 miles off the southeast coast of Africa, in the Indian Ocean) over 300 years ago. It was driven to extinction in the late 1600’s after invasive species out-competed the bird for food and ate its young. The speed at which this pigeon was extirpated made the Dodo the modern icon of human-caused extinction. Less than 75 years after Dutch sailors…

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The Passenger Pigeon: The Ecosystem Engineer of Eastern North American Forests

By Passenger Pigeon
By Ben J. Novak   Ryan Phelan and Stewart Brand congratulate Ben Novak at the Interval after Novak’s talk on his master’s thesis research for “the Great Passenger Pigeon Comeback”, September 27, 2016.   When Revive & Restore started working on Passenger Pigeon de-extinction four years ago, we hypothesized that the passenger pigeon could be a model species to develop the science of de-extinction. The Passenger Pigeon is certainly an iconic candidate. Conservation has often rallied behind iconic birds to galvanize environmental revolutions - modern conservation itself began with the extinction of the Passenger Pigeon. When the bird went extinct...
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Is It Time for Synthetic Biodiversity Conservation?

By Genetic Rescue
Assuredly yes, it is time for synthetic biology to be incorporated into the twenty-first century toolkit for biodiversity conservation. Prompted by pressing biodiversity concerns, an influential group of scientists and conservationists organized by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature met in December 2015 in Bellagio, Italy to examine how emerging synthetic biology tools might successfully be applied to currently intractable problems. Concluding that greater collaboration between synthetic biologists and conservationists is urgently needed, participants – including Revive & Restore's Executive Director Ryan Phelan – put out a call for the community educate itself on how new genomic technologies could remedy a variety of...
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Informing Bird Conservationists on Current and Potential Uses of Genetic Rescue

By Passenger Pigeon
By Ben J. Novak At the 2016 North American Ornithology Conference (NAOC) held this August in Washington D.C., Heath Hen de-extinction project leaders Ben Novak and Jeff Johnson organized and facilitated an important symposium: “Current and future prospects on avian de-extinction and genetic rescue”. While the Heath Hen and Passenger Pigeon de-extinction projects have begun to receive coverage in the press (see UnDark magazine's piece on resurrecting the heath hen and National Geographic on reviving the passenger pigeon), the versatile uses of genomic technologies for avian conservation hasn’t yet reached many professional and citizen scientists working to save birds and their habitats....
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IUCN World Conservation Congress: Stamping Out Mosquitoes in Hawaii

By Education

By Ben J. Novak On September 3, and 4, 2016, Revive & Restore participated in the IUCN World Conservation Congress. Revive & Restore cofounder Ryan Phelan convened two sessions on the potential role biotechnology could play in conservation. The 2016 congress was the largest in the 68-year history of the International Union for the Conservation of Nature, with nearly 10,000 registered participants. It was also the first held in the United States. The setting was Hawaii, sometimes labeled “the extinction capital of the world.” Few places have more urgency to introduce new tools for saving species and ecosystems.   The goal…

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