Natalie, Dave, and Scott review discoveries about the genetics of carotenoid coloration

Spurred by several exciting findings in warblers and canaries, current lab members Dave Toews and Natalie Hoffmeister, and lab alum Scott Taylor, reviewed what is known about the evolution and genetics of carotenoid processing in animals in a paper just published in Trends in Genetics. Animals cannot synthesize carotenoids and …

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Nick on assessment of academic support programs

Graduate student Nick Mason recently published a paper with lead author Cissy Ballen to examine the effects of a campus support program for underrepresented minorities, first-generation students, and women in biology: the Biology Scholars Program (BSP) at Cornell. Together, Cissy and Nick found evidence of a disparity in preparedness among …

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Lucky postdocs in Italy for the Gordon Speciation Conference

Postdocs Jen Walsh and David Toews and Research Associate Leo Campagna are all currently presenting posters and talks at the Gordon Speciation Conference in Tuscany. They were also invited to a pre-conference seminar highlighting cool young investigators. This small conference, with approximately 120 attendees, is focused on the frontiers of …

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New paper by Jen Walsh et al on sparrow diversity

Postdoc Jen Walsh and collaborators recently published a paper in Molecular Ecology investigating the genetic structure of the Saltmarsh-Nelson’s sparrow subspecies complex. Using a reduced representation sequencing approach coupled with morphological data, this study offers the first comprehensive view into subspecies variation within Saltmarsh and Nelson’s sparrows. The authors found …

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Jen Walsh et al. on the conservation genetics of sparrows

Postdoc Jen Walsh and collaborators recently published a paper in Conservation Genetics investigating the temporal stability of the Saltmarsh-Nelson’s sparrow hybrid zone. By comparing genetic, morphological, and survey data from the same sites from two time periods (1998 and 2013), this study finds that Nelson’s Sparrows are moving further south …

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Experimental design, biostats, … and penguins!

We are back from two exciting weeks in Patagonia where Irby and Leo have led for the second consecutive year the field-course portion of “BioEE2525/BioEE2526 Ecology and Conservation of Wildlife in the Neotropics”. Together with co-leaders Roxanne Razavi, David Toews, Natalia García and a group of 12 Cornell students, we …

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Nick’s paper on song evolution and diversification is out in Evolution

Graduate student Nick Mason and collaborators recently published a paper in Evolution about diversification, rates of song evolution, and vocal learning in passerine birds. By combining two large vocalization data sets, this study finds a positive association between accelerated bursts in speciation and vocal evolution. Furthermore, the authors find evidence …

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Molecular Ecologist features Stepfanie’s new paper on IBD

The well-read Molecular Ecologist blog by Jeremy Yoder — which is loosely affiliated with the Molecular Ecology journal — just ran a really great commentary featuring a new paper posted on bioRxiv by grad student and lead author Stepfanie Aguillon. The title of the original paper is Deconstructing isolation-by-distance: the …

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Hope’s honors thesis is published in The Auk

Congratulations to alumna Hope Batcheller for getting her undergraduate honors thesis all the way through to publication! Hope’s project on interspecific communication among ant-following birds in lowland Amazonia started with a semester-long directed reading seminar class on the existing research about ant-following birds, when then led Hope to design field …

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Our lab group December retreat

Our lab group enjoyed an all-day retreat today, with a break to attend the Lab of Ornithology holiday party. We covered lots of ground in discussing research, outreach, and professional development topics. But perhaps the most important outcome of the sillier part of the late afternoon was the anointing of …

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