Applied Wildlife Forensic Genetics

Course Description

This course builds upon material learned in the VME-6573 Applications of DNA for Companion Animals and Wildlife Cases course. This course will give the student a basic understanding of forensic genetics as it is applied to wildlife conservation. Topics will include how DNA is distributed in natural populations, mechanisms for evolutionary change in populations, the Hardy-Weinberg principle and F-statistics, how population genetics is used to solve forensics problems and support conservation, genetic markers used in forensics and their statistical analysis, and how DNA is used forensically to investigate crimes related to endangered and threatened animals and plants. This course will prepare students to take the Forensic Genetics Capstone course.

Course Objectives

By the end of this course, students should be able to:

1: Upon completion of Module 1, students will be able to discern and explain the mechanisms and requirements for the course, and the scope and relevance of the material to be covered.

Enabling objectives:

Students will be able to:

    • Fulfill requirements of the discussion board by posting
    • Discuss and analyze the relationship between this course and previous courses, and define their own knowledge and experience relevant to the course

2: Upon completion of Module 2, students will be able to interpret and explain basic concepts of population genetics and their relationship to and use in wildlife forensics.

Enabling objectives:

Students will be able to:

    • Analyze how DNA is naturally distributed among species, populations, and individuals
    • Demonstrate the Hardy-Weinberg principle and list its assumptions
    • Calculate F-statistics, given heterozygosity values
    • Summarize the ways that gene frequencies change in populations
    • Recognize and discriminate among species, subspecies, populations, Evolutionarily Significant Units, and Management Units
      • Establish the use of population genetics in a wildlife forensics conservation case study

3: Upon completion of Module 3, students will be able to choose appropriate molecular markers and statistical analyses for different wildlife forensics problems.

Enabling objectives:

Students will be able to:

    • Formulate and distinguish among different molecular markers used in wildlife forensics
    • Apply the appropriate statistics for analysis of wildlife forensic DNA for different scenarios.

4: Upon completion of Module 4, students will be able to critically evaluate the use of wildlife forensic DNA in wildlife crimes and conservation.

Enabling objectives:

Students will be able to:

    • Review and analyze case studies for appropriate use of population genetics and statistics
    • Compare and contrast different types of analyses in case studies according to their goals
    • Describe the uses of wildlife forensic genetics for different situations