Category

Passenger Pigeon

Citizen Science for the Passenger Pigeon – Join the Project!

By Ben Novak, De-Extinction, Get Involved, Passenger Pigeon

-Ben J. Novak Revive & Restore’s Great Passenger Pigeon Comeback began in 2012 with two questions: Can we bring back the passenger pigeon to the eastern forests of the United States? And if so, why bring it back? To answer these questions, Revive & Restore with scientists from the University of California, Santa Cruz, sequenced genomes, crunched population models, reviewed historic records and forestry science, and more.  This new research significantly reshapes accepted scientific views of this iconic species. Can we bring back the Passenger Pigeon? We can’t bring the passenger pigeon back as a exact clone from a historical…

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Meet the Scientists Bringing Back Extinct Species From the Dead

By De-Extinction, Passenger Pigeon
Meet the Scientists Bringing Extinct Species Back From the Dead Wall Street Journal – October 9, 2018 “The last known passenger pigeon—a bird named Martha—died in captivity at a Cincinnati zoo in 1914. Her demise sparked the passing of modern conservation laws to protect other endangered species in the U.S.” Now, more than 100 years later, the Passenger Pigeon is again advancing conservation. Although the de-extinction of the Passenger Pigeon will likely take decades, de-extinction research is already generating foundational science that could transform bird conservation. Furthermore, Passenger Pigeon de-extinction offers a new opportunity to achieve long-term conservation goals for...
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Experimental Investigation of the Dietary Ecology of the Extinct Passenger Pigeon, Ectopistes migratorius

By Passenger Pigeon, Revive & Restore

The passenger pigeon (Ectopistes migratorius) was the dominant species in eastern North American forests for tens of thousands of years prior to its extinction in 1914. The birds lived in megaflocks comprising up to several billion individuals, moving nomadically as they consumed fruit and mast, the seed of beech, oak, chestnut, and other forest trees. The size and density of passenger pigeon flocks as well as their migratory patterns and their diet shaped the abundance and the distribution of tree species in these forests. In fact, the passenger pigeon was an ecosystem engineer of eastern North American forests for tens…

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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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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 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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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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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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The CRISPR Craze Takes Flight: Adding Birds to the CRISPR Zoo

By Passenger Pigeon

By Ben J. Novak I returned from Taipei, Taiwan today after attending the Avian Model Systems 9 meeting and taking a week-long tour of the spectacular sights of Taroko Gorge, Hualien, and Alishan to reflect on the mass of information presented. Being in the wilderness is certainly the best way to digest new ideas for applying new science innovations to conservation. The Avian Model Systems meeting is a unique conference of scientists striving to make birds the best model organisms possible for many avenues of research. Often, non-avian models are unsuitable to study a particular phenomenon, such as the study of…

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2015 Year End Report by Stewart Brand

By Black-Footed Ferret, De-Extinction, Heath Hen, Passenger Pigeon

Revive & Restore has set out to expand conservation practice by demonstrating how new genomic tools can be applied to a variety of serious wildlife problems that have proved unsolvable by traditional means. Working with dozens of scientists, we are participating in 12 such projects—7 initiated by us. Of the 12 projects, 6 aim to prevent extinction of endangered species (genetic rescue), 5 attempt to reverse extinction in ecologically important species (de-extinction), and 1 hopes to cure a devastating human ailment (Lyme disease) by tweaking its wildlife reservoir. That may seem like too much for a tiny nonprofit to take…

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