Tracking the wolverines return to the North Cascades

After doing some initial research, Aubry’s team sends the wolverine tissue samples to the Burke Museum where they are added to our Genetic Resources Collection, one of the largest of its type in the world. With tissue samples from more than 55,000 birds, 9,000 mammals, and 1,500reptiles and amphibians, the collection is essentially a library of biodiversity – and a resource for researchers everywhere.

Tissue samples contain valuable genetic information that can help researchers in many ways. For example, researchers might use this information to verify the identity of the animal, look at genetic diversity and trends across wolverine populations in Washington versus other populations, or even to do basic research on their genes to understand how they occupy a particular ecological niche.

The Burke’s mammalogy collection has wolverine bone and skin specimens from past years, but Jeff Bradley, mammalogy collections manager, is particularly excited that these tissue samples come from wolverines still living in the wild – with some tissues coming from the same wolverine at different stages in its life. 

This information, along with any bone or skin specimens the Burke might receive in the future, is a valuable resource for future researchers. “As technology improves, we are able to use our specimens to ask new questions,” said Bradley. “In one-hundred years, researchers will be using our collections to answer questions we can’t even dream of today.”

More information about wolverines in Washington:

Special thanks to Keith Aubry for contributing information and photos to this post.

Article Source: Burke Museum