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Research Partner Program: Harvard University researchers look to ZIMS for essential data on species

Researchers at the Human Evolutionary Biology Department, Harvard University, have joined the Species360 Research Partner Program. As part of the program, the department’s Capellini Lab plans to use data from Species360’s Zoological Information Management System (ZIMS) to study connections between genotype (genetic makeup) and phenotype (observable characteristics) in mammals, including nonhuman primates and humans.

“Our goal is to reveal, at the DNA base-pair level, the causal genetic changes that control complex phenotypes and phenotypic variation,” said Terence Capellini, Richard B. Wolf Associate Professor, Human Evolutionary Biology, Harvard University.

Scientific research has captured genotype data for thousands of the approximately 6,500 mammal species.  But a source of species-specific and standardized phenotype data has been difficult to identify. Using ZIMS, Species360 member zoos and aquariums provide that essential missing data.

“As genomic data has become much more readily available for hundreds to thousands of species, acquiring adequate and extensive phenotypic data has been an obstacle to making genotype/phenotype connections. Thus, the ZIMS dataset is of extremely high value and has begun to fill a major void,” said Capellini.

ZIMS is the world’s most comprehensive database of knowledge on more than 22,000 species and 11 million individual animals. With over 20,000 individual user logins and 330 million records, some dating to the 1800s, vastly increase what is known about thousands of species, and are instrumental in identifying sustainability strategies for many species assessed as vulnerable, endangered, and extinct in the wild.

The Harvard researchers join a growing number worldwide participating in the Species360 Research Partner Program. Among the research partners are:

  • IUCN Species Survival Commission – the Primates Section on Small Apes
  • University of California at Berkeley
  • University of California, Davis
  • University of Navarro (Spain)
  • Babes Bolyai University (Romania)
  • Murdoch University (Australia)
  • and many more.

Data on species is available thanks to the scientists and animal care teams at nearly 1,300 Species360 member institutions that curate and share data using ZIMS.

Read more about the Species360 Research Partner Program and its participants.

Photo Credit: Adobe Images

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