College of Science/Smithsonian-Mason School of Conservation

Klaus-Peter Koepfli

Senior Research Scientist, Biology Department

Faculty Directory

Research Focus
I am a broadly trained biologist specializing in genomics and its application to the conservation of biodiversity. Me and my students and collaborators develop and apply state-of-the-art genomic tools to inform conservation management strategies of species at risk for extinction and to dissect the underlying causes of inbreeding depression, particularly with regard to deleterious variation. Analyses based on whole genome sequences, or reduced representations of these, provide a fertile ground for investigating the interplay of population size and fitness, which have the potential to revolutionize how endangered species are managed under human care. My research also includes comparing the genomes of different species in order to gain insights into the evolution and maintenance of biological diversity.
Current Projects
  • Understanding the genetic and epigenetic causes of decreased reproductive fitness in the endangered black-footed ferret (Mustela nigripes) using genomic tools.
  • Applying genomic data to enhance the conservation management of sable antelope (Hippotragus niger), dama gazelles (Nanger dama) and scimitar-horned oryx (Oryx dammah) in zoos and private ranches in North America.
  • Empowering ex situ conservation management of the critically endangered southern black rhinoceros (Diceros bicornis minor) through sequencing and analysis of whole genomes.
  • Comparative and conservation genomics of mammalian carnivores
  • Member, Vertebrate Genomes Project: https://vertebrategenomesproject.org/

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