A high-quality reference genome assembly is an essential tool for understanding the biology of any organism. Since the genome encodes a full set of instructions for Seabert’s development and maintenance, it is critical to decode this “organism blueprint” to lay a foundation for future conservation genetics studies, such as population-scale resequencing.
Whenever the size of a population is severely reduced, the chance of inbreeding increases and genetic diversity is lost, leading to further declines and making it harder for populations to adapt to changes in their environment. The Dovetail Genomics reference genome of Seabert will allow researchers to investigate changes in the genetic diversity of the declining fur seal population at South Georgia. Doing so will give us a better understanding of how inbreeding impacts survival, growth, and other factors linked to reproductive success and ultimately population size and recovery.