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Non-Invasive Genetic Techniques in Wildlife Conservation

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Spaces Remain: Still Accepting Applications!


This course is an introduction for biologists, managers and lab technicians to the benefits, drawbacks and applications of non-invasive genetic techniques to wildlife conservation.  We concentrate on the use of non-invasive techniques to answer questions in animal behavior, population biology, and population management, with a particular focus on the conservation of vertebrate populations.  Participants gain hands-on experience relating to all stages of a research project utilizing modern non-invasive methods.

The curriculum includes:

  • Survey design options and concerns
  • Non-invasive sample collection protocols
  • DNA extraction and amplification
  • Analysis of microsatellite and sequence data
  • Assessing genotype reliability
  • Population size estimation
  • Research applications for ancient DNA
  • Next-generation pyro-sequencing
  • Applications of genetic information for behavioral studies (e.g. kin selection, inbreeding)
  • Interpretation, synthesis, and application of results


This 7-day intensive course is taught by researchers from the Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute’s Center for Conservation and Evolutionary Genetics and by several expert visiting instructors. The course includes a behind-the-scenes tour of the research campus at Front Royal, Virginia as well as use of the National Zoo’s new state-of-the-art Genetics Lab.

Participants should have previously completed a college-level genetics and basic ecology/evolution course.



June 1-7, 2013



Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute in Front Royal, Virginia


Application Procedure

Non-Invasive Genetic Techniques is offered through the Smithsonian-Mason School of Conservation as a professional training course for 3 Continuing Education Units (CEUs). Applications should be submitted using our Online Application Page. Before beginning our online application, please have .pdf or .doc versions of your updated CV, a Personal Statement of Interest and Qualifications (maximum 350 words), and a Professional Letter of Recommendation. You’ll be asked to attach these with your application.


Spaces Remain: Still Accepting Applications!


Course Costs

Payment Deadline: April 6, 2013

The total cost for this course is $2,498 (Course fee of $1400 + $250 Lab fee + Housing and Dining Package of $848) and includes:

  • Registration fees
  • Instruction, course manual, textbooks and other course materials
  • Lab reagents and DNA kits used during course
  • Pick-up and drop-off at Dulles International airport, and transportation for course activities
  • Daily full-service buffet at the SMSC Dining Commons – Dining begins with dinner on Friday May 31st and ends with brunch on Saturday June 8th.
  • Housing at the SMSC Residential Facility, including a shared room with bathroom (single rooms available at extra cost) – Lodging begins Friday May 31st and check out is Saturday June 8th.


Local participants may elect to stay off campus, waive the housing and dining package, and commute to this course. Meals in the Dining Commons can be purchased individually as needed.


For more information email SCBItraining@si.edu.

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