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From Banana Slugs to Northern Elephant Seals

Researchers in California are tracking down animals that live in the state to be sequenced as part of the California Conservation Genomics Project, the Mercury News reports.

It adds that the effort plans to build a database of 20,000 genomes from 250 species living in California that could give insight into the health of different ecosystems in the state. To collect samples, researchers from 10 University of California campuses, the Lawrence Berkeley and Los Alamos National Labs, a number of California State University campuses, and elsewhere are fanning out to, for instance, gather tissue samples from banana slugs, Crotch's bumblebees, or Northern elephant seals, the Mercury News writes.

By doing this, it adds, researchers led by UCLA's Brad Shaffer hope to get a sense of the animals' diversity and population health as well as guide conservation efforts. "We protect pretty places," Shaffer tells the Mercury News. "We may not be protecting the most biologically important places."

So far, the researchers have collected 15,000 samples and extracted DNA from 5,000 samples, the Mercury News reports, adding that the researchers expect the project to be complete in a year or two.

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