Preserving California’s wildlife through research, education and public programs.
Using a radical genomic tool, UCLA conservation biologist Brad Shaffer uncovered clues on how people can benefit from desert tortoises’ remarkable ability to survive for months without breathing.
“It turns out, they [have] the same genes we have, and the turtles are just using them in different ways and really cranking up their activity in most cases,” says Shaffer, “The fact that they’re common means they may have direct relevance to human health conditions, especially those related to oxygen deprivation, hypothermia and possibly longevity.”
By understanding the natural mechanisms these shelled creatures use to protect their heart and brain from oxygen deprivation, we may one day improve treatments for heart attacks and stroke. This is just one of many ways the study of our natural habitat can help improve the lives of human beings — and one of many ways that the La Kretz Center is working to expand our knowledge of the natural world and conserve the region’s remarkable biodiversity.
At the La Kretz Center, our mission is to teach others how to protect and restore California’s fragile biodiversity resources. Headquartered in the Santa Monica Mountains, we collaborate with park managers and officials to ensure that our latest discoveries are supported by the National Park Service. Support for the center’s efforts also helps educational outreach, such as the annual Conservation Genomics Workshop and the La Kretz Annual Lecture, bringing to Los Angeles renowned thinkers, researchers and leaders to educate and inspire our audience, and ourselves, on conservation science. We also co-sponsor speakers in the UCLA Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology seminar series.
Working together, we can protect, conserve and preserve California’s most precious biological resources.
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