Ben’s paper is out in Molecular Ecology

A paper resulting from Benjamin Van Dooren’s undergraduate honors thesis is out in the latest issue of Molecular Ecology where is is accompanied by a great commentary by Reto Buri. Ben did this honors project in our lab and went on to receive a Marshall Scholarship for his PhD at the University of Oxford, where he has been since September. Ben took on an ambitious project involving creating a reference Stonechat genome and resequencing individuals from five different stonechat taxa at different degrees of differentiation (four species and one subspecies). Ben compared genomic landscapes–i.e. patterns of genomic differentiation–across all possible inter-taxon comparisons and asked if the same regions of the genome had become differentiated in independently evolving lineages. Ben found that the divergence landscapes were highly correlated, a result that was also true to a certain extent when comparing against the more distantly related Ficedula flycatchers. This degree of correlation could be the product of intrinsic properties of particular genomic regions, such as areas of low recombination. Ben’s paper is one of a growing list of studies that suggest that areas of high differentiation should not always be interpreted as islands of divergence.

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