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Emily Burns

Emily Burns, PhD, League's former Director of Science, reaches for the captivating cream-colored needles of an albino sprout growing out of a redwood. “It lacks chlorophyll, so it’s white, and it’s caused by a mutation on that particular sprout’s DNA,” she said. Further genomic research could confirm hypotheses that albino sprouts are more than parasites. It’s clear that the deeper we go into the redwood genome, the more we’ll know. Photo by Paolo Vescia

Mapping the Redwood Genomes

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Save the Redwoods League is leading research to fully sequence the coast redwood and giant sequoia genomes — for the first time — utilizing conifer genetic sequencing techniques unavailable until now. By the end of this five-year project, the genome sequences and the screening tools developed will allow researchers to quickly assess genetic diversity in redwood forests to inform management plans that restore the health and resilience of these forests throughout their natural ranges as they face environmental stressors such as climate change.

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From the top of the canopy looking down. Photo by Stephen Sillett, Institute for Redwood Ecology, Humboldt State University

Forest Canopies of the World

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High up in the canopy of an old growth forest, there exists an extraordinary world hardly known to most of us on earth. For centuries, people have admired the sheer size of redwood trunks and appreciated the bounty of ferns and sorrel that carpet the forest floor. We have cherished the rare silence that envelopes the trees and relished in the beauty of sunlight filtering through the underside of the canopy. Yet, the intricate world at the top of the trees remained a mystery until the late twentieth century, with the advent of canopy exploration.

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