The Burns lab welcomes new MS student Ben Scott. Ben received his Bachelor of Arts in Biology from Occidental College. While at Occidental, Ben worked in the Moore Lab of Zoology with John McCormack on phylogeny and trait evolution of New World Jays. Ben also spent some time working at the Western Foundation of Vertebrate Zoology, home of the largest egg collection in the world. Welcome Ben!
Rosalyn had a busy summer, starting with two weeks working with collaborators in the Faircloth lab at LSU and ending with ten days at the Marine Biological Laboratory’s Workshop on Molecular Evolution in Woods Hole, MA. The workshop provided an overview on topics in molecular evolution including phylogenetic inference, population genetics, comparative genomics, and much more. One focus of the workshop was hands-on instruction in the latest software, often by the authors of the programs. The workshop was an incredible experience, and Rosalyn is excited to apply what she learned to her thesis work on the phylogenomics and trait evolution of tanagers.
Attendees at 2018 Workshop on Molecular Evolution held at the Marine Biological Laboratory in Woods Hole, MA
Darwin’s finches are a classic example of adaptive radiation, but few studies have attempted to reconstruct the biogeographic origins of Darwin’s finches. Burns lab MS student Erik Funk studied this question in the third chapter of his thesis which was published last month in the Auk (and put on the cover). This study revisited an early paper by Kevin Burns, Shannon Hackett, and the late Nedra Klien (Burns et al. 2002). The earlier study showed that Darwin’s finches likely originated from a Caribbean species, given that so many of their close relatives are found in the region. Erik’s paper provides an important update, with improved biogeographic methods and a newer phylogeny. Erik’s results were a bit more equivocal than the 2002 paper. Although a Caribbean origin is plausible and likely, a South American origin can not be ruled out. You can read the paper here, and there was also a nice summary of the overall question and Erik’s results in the Guardian.
July 2018 Auk Cover, highlighting Funk and Burns (2018). Picture of Vegetarian Finch by Scott Taylor.
Biogeographic Reconstruction of Darwin’s Finches
Congratulations to Amelia Demery who successfully defended her MS thesis last week. Her research involved looking at the role morphology plays in tanager diversification. Amelia will begin working on her PhD at Cornell University this fall. We will miss her energy and enthusiasm, but we wish her the best of luck!
The Burns lab had a great time at last month’s meeting of the American Ornithological Society. Four presentations had Burns lab members as authors. Amelia and Rosalyn presented parts of their MS theses, and Nick presented work he performed in John McCormack’s lab. Plus, we got to hang out with past Burns lab students Nick Mason and Erik Funk and future Burns lab student Ben Scott. In addition to all the science, we enjoyed many excellent birds both during and after the meeting. Amelia and Rosalyn both received travel awards to attend the meeting. Amelia, who is chair of the student affairs committee, did a great job as MC of the student quiz bowl. Former Burns lab student Nick Mason received the Marion Jenkinson Service Award. Lastly, Kevin Burns was part of team that received the Brina Kessel Award given to the best paper in the Auk in the last 4 years. They received the award for their paper on 9-primaried oscines relationships:
Barker, F. K., K. J. Burns, J. Klicka, S. M. Lanyon, and I. J. Lovette. 2015. New insights into New World biogeography: An integrated view from the phylogeny of blackbirds, cardinals, sparrows, tanagers, warblers, and allies. Auk 132:333-348.
Burns lab past, present, and future at 2018 AOS Meeting: Erik Funk, Nick Maon, Nick Vinciguerra, Rosalyn Price-Waldman, Amelia Demery, Kevin Burns, and Ben Scott
The Burns lab welcomes new MS student Nick Vinciguerra. Nick received his Bachelor of Arts in Ecology and Evolutionary Biology from the University of Colorado Boulder. After graduating, Nick worked at the Institute of Arctic Biology in Alaska, the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute in Panama, and in the lab of John McCormack at Occidental College. Welcome Nick!
The Burns lab was well represented at the recent American Ornithological Society meetings, which were held this year at Michigan State University this year. Five past and present Burns lab members were in attendance. Erik received an AOS travel award to present his talk on conservation indices of tanagers. Brian also received a travel award to present his hummingbird hybrid zone results. We were joined by Amelia who has been working in Scott Edward’s lab at Harvard this summer. She presented some of her MS thesis results on tanager morphological evolution. We were also able to reconnect with former Burns lab student Nick Mason who presented results partly based on his MS thesis data. Nick won a student presentation award for his talk. There was lots of good science at the meeting — and we also managed to get great looks at the endangered Kirtland’s Warbler!
Nick Mason, Erik Funk, Amelia Demery, Kevin Burns, and Brian Myers at 2017 AOS meetings