ANCHORAGE, Alaska — The University of Alaska Fairbanks School of Natural Resources and Agricultural Sciences is launching a new study of the genetics of endangered species. The project is funded by a $400,000 grant from the Alaska Department of Commerce, Community and Economic Development.
The project will assess the history of polar bears and brown/grizzly bears. The project's leader, associate professor Matthew Cronin, hopes to quantify the extent of DNA divergence within and between the species. He will also study sea lions and beluga whales' population genetic structures over time.
He will be seeking the timing of polar bear evolution from brown bear ancestors and try to determine what hte sea ice and shoreline conditions were like in the ancient past.
Collaborators on the project include the U.S. Department of Agriculture, the Alaska Department of Fish and Game, Texas Tech University, the University of California Davis and Purdue University.