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Catalog of the Galapagos

Citizen scientists in the Galapagos Islands are collecting soil and water samples to be analyzed to generate a catalog of the region's biodiversity, the Associated Press reports.

The Barcode Galapagos Project has hired and trained 74 Galapagos residents to collect, prepare, and run samples through sequencers at three labs on the islands, it says. With these samples, they are analyzing and identifying DNA from animals that have a small amount of cells behind as they walked, slithered, or swam through the region. "We are making a genetic catalog of the biodiversity of the Galapagos. We want to obtain the genetic signature of the species of the Galapagos and quantify the variation of each one due to the geographical isolation in which they are found," Diego Ortiz, who is managing the project, tells the AP.

It adds that the Charles Darwin Scientific Station has cataloged 10,659 species so far and that between 30 percent and 40 percent of the species don't match any entries in global gene banks.