Scientific work helps us make well-informed decisions critical to a successful recovery of the Red Siskin. Fieldwork and genetic research are carried to understand the species in the wild and design breeding programs.
Research is crucial to a successful recovery program. This is especially true for the Red Siskin, which has been rare for so long that not much is known about it. Our field and genetic research programs have grown over the years and we have much more planned for the future. Our team has started working with communities in Guyana and Venezuela to learn more about trapping and trade. This information is vital for understanding how to recover Red Siskin including captive breeding and rescue, as well as for longer-term solutions, like alternative livelihoods, public education, enforcement and reintroduction.
Field research is focused on detecting where Red Siskin populations still occur, how large the populations truly are, what habitats and resources they need, and how they behave at different times throughout the year. Field research has also allowed us to collect samples for genetic analyses.
Genetic research helps to understand differences between Venezuelan and Guyanese populations, preserve the genetic purity of the species, and assess the genetic health of remaining wild populations. The current priority is to complete whole genome sequencing of Red Siskins and other species with which they are known to hybridize.
These data will be used to advance our genetic program and to develop molecular tools for captive breeding management.
Also, there are important questions about trapping and trade that still need answers, such as where does it still occur, who is involved, and what drives the market. Understanding this threat is fundamental to a successful recovery.
All of these various research programs will contribute to a Population and Habitat Viability Analysis, which will be conducted together with IUCN’s Conservation Specialist Breeding Group. This analysis will to identify important data gaps and indicate further research priorities.
Jointly, research efforts will facilitate well-informed decisions that are critical to planning and management of recovery actions.