New Short Talks: Biologists Marlis and Michael Douglas on What DNA Can Tell Us About the Health of Wildlife

by | Jul 2, 2018 | In The News & Multimedia, Radio & Podcasts

Marlis and Michael Douglas on DNA 

Michael and Marlis Douglas.

In this edition of Short Talks From the Hill, a podcast from the University of Arkansas, Marlis and Michael Douglas, both professors in the Department of Biological Sciences, talk about the role of DNA testing in their work as wildlife biologists.

In their research, the Douglases have worked with many kinds of animals, from brown tree snakes in Guam, to large fish in Bhutan, to deer in Arkansas.

“We use DNA as our Rosetta Stone to understand migrations of animals, to understand the genealogical relationships, how they relate to one another,” says Michael.  “We also figure out how much genetic variability is within a population so when you lose a lot of genetic variability that puts you in very dangerous straits for conservation and management.”

In each case, DNA provided insight into whether a species was flourishing, or not, which helps resource managers make sound decisions. In Arkansas, for example, the Douglases are using genetic testing to determine how groups of deer move throughout the state so that wildlife officials can better control the spread of chronic wasting disease. The disease, which is incurable, infectious and fatal, affects deer, moose and elk. Most cases in Arkansas are in or around Newton County.

“Our genetic studies studied primarily how do deer move across the landscape and what might be barriers and what might be corridors,” said Marlis.

To learn more about the Douglas’ research go to, the home of research news at the University of Arkansas. Listeners can also find Short Talks From the Hill podcasts under the “Local & Podcast” link at

Short Talks From the Hill highlights research and scholarly work at the University of Arkansas. Each segment features a university researcher discussing his or her work. For more information and additional podcasts, click on the Multimedia link at


This story originally appeared in the University of Arkansas’ Newswire publication. Please visit for more stories like this.

Matt McGowan

Science and Research Writer, University Relations 

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