Welcome Nick!

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!

Nick Vinciguerra

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Burns Lab at 2017 AOS

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!

Burns Lab

Nick Mason, Erik Funk, Amelia Demery, Kevin Burns, and Brian Myers at 2017 AOS meetings

Kirtland's Warbler

Kirtland’s Warbler

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2017 AOS in Michigan

Burns lab members past and present will be well represented at this week’s upcoming American Ornithological Society Meeting in East Lansing, Michigan. Here is a list of presentations by both former and current Burns lab members (in bold):

Thursday,  August 3rd; 1:45 pm; Kellogg 106
McCullough J *, Mauck W III, Moyle R, Smith B, Andersen M: SYSTEMATICS AND BIOGEOGRAPHY OF THE PANTROPICAL AVIAN ORDER CORACIIFORMES

Thursday,  August 3rd; 2:00 pm ; Kellogg 105AB
Myers B, Burns K, Clark C: PHENOTYPIC DATA REVEAL AN ALLEN’S (SELASPHORUS SASIN) X RUFOUS (SELASPHORUS RUFUS) HUMMINGBIRD HYBRID ZONE

Friday, August 4th, 11:00 am; Kellogg 106
Funk E *, Burns K: EVOLUTIONARY DISTINCTIVENESS AND CONSERVATION PRIORITIES IN A LARGE RADIATION OF NEW WORLD BIRDS (EMBERIZOIDEA)

Friday, August 4th, 11:00 am; Kellogg 104AB
McCoy D, Shultz A, van der Heide E, Trauger S, Vidoudez C: RED VELVET AND NEON YELLOW: VIVID COLOR FROM PIGMENT AND STRUCTURE IN THE RAMPHOCELUS TANAGERS

Friday, August 4th, 11:15 am; Brody 112
Mason N *, Burns KJ, Tobias JA, Claramunt A, Seddon N, Derryberry E: SONG EVOLUTION, VOCAL LEARNING, AND SPECIATION IN PASSERINE BIRDS

Saturday, August 5th; 11:00 am; Brody 134
Demery A, Burns K, Mason N: CORRELATED TRAIT EVOLUTION AMONG ABIOTIC AND BIOTIC FACTORS IN A CONTINENTAL RADIATION (THRAUPIDAE)

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New AOS Checklist Supplement

The AOS checklist supplement for 2017 has recently been published. The paper can be downloaded here and the comments of committee members can be found here. This paper is is the result of work by the AOS Classification Committee, of which Burns is a member. The paper reviews recent papers on birds of North and Middle America, making determinations on proposed changes to the official AOS list of birds as well as changes to classification. A good review of this year’s changes can be found on the ABA blog. Among the “new” species are a newly recognized junco and a newly recognized crossbill. Another major change is the lumping of Thayer’s Gull with Iceland Gull. From the Burns lab perspective, the most notable change is a classification for 9-primaried oscines, the large group that contains tanagers and consists of roughly 10% of all birds. A recent series of publications (of which the Burns lab participated) has improved our understanding of evolutionary relationships in the group and has made the new classification possible. The new classification results in 10 newly recognized families, bringing the total number of families in the group to 16. An example of one of the ‘new’ families is highlighted in the image below.

Black-crowned Palm-Tanager (left) and White-winged Warbler (right). These two species were once considered members of different families, tanagers (Thraupidae) and warblers (Parulidae). However, their plumage patterns are somewhat similar, and DNA results (some of which were done in the Burns lab) confirm their close relationship. Thus, they are now considered members of the same, newly recognized family, Phaenicophilidae. Photos taken by Kevin Burns while doing field work in the Dominican Republic with Nedra Klein.

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New NSF Grant to Study Rufous and Allen’s Hummingbirds

The Burns lab recently received a 3-year grant from the National Science Foundation to study two closely related hummingbirds, the Rufous and the Allen’s Hummingbirds. The grant was awarded in collaboration with Chris Clark and Alan Brelsford, both at the University of California Riverside. Rufous and Allen’s Hummingbirds have unique courtship behaviors, including dives and other displays. The two species form a hybrid zone in Oregon where hybrids perform combinations of the two species courtship behaviors. The goal of the project is to examine genetics, morphology, and behavior across the hybrid zone to better understand processes leading to speciation. This work forms the core of Brian Myers’s PhD thesis.

AllensRufousHummingbirds

Allen’s and Rufous Hummingbirds

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Rosalyn receives NSF Graduate Research Fellowship

Rosalyn Price-Waldman, a Burns lab MS student, was recently awarded a prestigious NSF Graduate Research Fellowship. These awards provide three years of support for graduate education and are given to annually to outstanding students who are pursuing graduate degrees in science, math, technology, and engineering. Rosalyn’s thesis involves our ongoing work integrating tanager genomics with their ecology and evolution. Congrats Rosalyn!

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Congratulations Erik!

Congratulations to Erik Funk who successfully defended his MS thesis. His research involved using indices of phylogenetic diversity for conservation planning, focusing on tanagers and their relatives in a large clade known as Emberizoidea (9-primaried oscines). Erik will begin working on his PhD in Scott Taylor’s lab at the University of Colorado Boulder this fall. He will be missed and we wish him the best of luck!

IMG_0549reduced

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