FARMINGTON — The University of Maine at Farmington will feature a talk by Chris Brinegar, UMF adjunct associate professor in the natural sciences. The talk, “From the Redwood Forest to the Andes Mountains: The Adventures of a Conservation Geneticist,” is set for 6:30 p.m. Tuesday, Jan. 31, in the UMF Emery Community Arts Center.

Brinegar will explain in lay terms how the story of a threatened species’ past is written in its DNA and how that information can be used to increase its chances of survival into the future, according to a news release from the college.

This UMF Public Classroom lecture is free and refreshments will be available at 6 p.m.

Brinegar, a conservation geneticist, has studied several threatened plant species in two of the world’s most stunning yet highly-impacted forest habitats — the redwood forests of California and the Andean cloud forests of Ecuador and Peru, according to the release. Half field biologist and half forensic scientist, the conservation geneticist uses modern tools of DNA fingerprinting and analysis to characterize the genetic health, taxonomic classification, and evolutionary histories of at-risk species. Such data can play a crucial role in guiding conservation decisions.

Half of the Earth’s primary forests have been cut since the beginning of agriculture-based civilization. At the current rates of logging and agricultural expansion it is estimated that 40 percent of the remaining forests will be gone within 20 years, according to the release.

A major focus of conservation biology is to identify forest species at risk of extinction so that management plans can be put in place to increase their numbers and save their remaining habitat. An important additional goal is to conserve the genetic diversity of threatened species.

A two-time senior Fulbright scholar in Nepal and Ecuador, Brinegar was the former director of the Conservation Genetics Laboratory at San José State University in California before coming to UMF in 2006.

For more information, email Brinegar at [email protected].