Grad student Natalie Hofmeister and former lab member Dustin Rubenstein just published a new paper in Ecology Letters on adaptation to environmental variability in African starlings. Natalie and Dustin show that variability in the environment of African starlings influences patterns of substitution in the glucocorticoid receptor, which allows organisms to respond to stress. Substitution rate in the glucocorticoid receptor is lower in lineages that experience greater variance in rainfall, and this gene is under strong purifying selection. These data suggest that environmental variability may result in genetic canalization to maintain a successful coping strategy.
Hofmeister, N. R. and Rubenstein, D. R. (2016). Environmental variability and the evolution of the glucocorticoid receptor (Nr3c1) in African starlings. Ecol Lett. doi:10.1111/ele.12656
Link to paper here: http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/ele.12656/full