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From the field

I completed my Ph.D. last year in John Klicka's lab at the University of Washington and the @burkemuseum. The central chapter of my dissertation investigated the speciation history of the Yellow-billed Kingfisher and Mountain Kingfisher, a pair of sister species found in the mountains of New Guinea. Using morphological and genomic data from the field and from museum specimens, we found evidence that adaptation to different elevations contributed to their divergence in the face of interbreeding — something unusual in tropical mountain birds. You can read our work in a preprint on bioRxiv (doi: 10.1101/589044)! First photo by coauthor Jack Dumbacher. #ornithology #birds #wildlife #science #ecology #biology #evolution #newguinea
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[Our thanks to AOS member Ethan Linck (@ethanlinck), who's taking over this account for the week!]Hello! My name is Ethan Linck, and I'm an #AOSMember, biologist, and freelance writer based in Albuquerque, New Mexico. I'm currently a National Science Foundation Postdoctoral Research Fellow in Biology in Chris Witt's lab at the University of New Mexico and the Museum of Southwestern Biology, and a research affiliate in Scott Taylor's lab at CU Boulder. While I am broadly interested in avian speciation, phylogeography, and population genetics, I get most excited about a simple, thorny, and endlessly intriguing question: why are there so many species in tropical mountains? I’ll be taking over the @amornith account this week, but you can also find me on here @ethanlinck or on Twitter @/ethanblinck. #ornithology #wildlife #birds #science #ecology #biologyAgricultural lands can support bird populations, but agricultural intensification can also cause populations to decline — so what role are changes in American agriculture playing for Mourning Doves? A Mourning Dove’s age can be estimated from the molt pattern of the wing feathers, and the age ratios of birds killed by hunters let the researchers behind a recent paper in The Condor estimate doves’ reproductive output in different regions. They found that although the specifics varied between locations, small changes in land cover were linked to large differences in Mourning Doves' reproductive output. In the eastern U.S., for example, counties with greater proportions of intensive corn and soybean agriculture had much lower ratios of juveniles to adults. Photo by David Muñoz. #agriculture #ornithology #birds #wildlife #conservation #science #ecology #mourningdoveMillions of songbirds that breed across North America converge on a tiny region of Colombia called the Darién during their migration each year, as shown by research recently published in The Condor. This is what the researchers call a migratory Plenty of studies, especially in “birdy” places like shade-grown coffee farms, have shown that birds can provide an economically valuable service to farmers by eating pest insects. But what about in the huge swathes of farmland that cover much of the U.S.? To find out, the researchers behind a recent study in The Condor set up mesh “exclosures” over corn and soybean plants to see how keeping out birds but not insects would affect crops' success. They found that birds had a positive effect on corn crop yield, but a negative effect on soybean crop yield in the adjacent field. For the many farmers that use a corn-corn-soybean rotation schedule, this may suggest economic gain in the long run. Photos by Daryl Coldren and Megan Garfinkel. #ornithology #birds #wildlife #ecology #conservation #science #agriculture #midwestThe sunbirds are a group of nectar-eating songbirds from Africa and Asia that are a sort of Old World counterpart of hummingbirds. A recent paper in The Condor offered a new reason to prioritize sunbird conservation beyond just At Michigan State I teach two courses, Ecology and Tropical Biology. Each fall during the Tropical Biology course we have a “Tropical Thanksgiving.” Each group of students is assigned a plant family with a distribution primarily in the tropics, and students need to uncover a species in the plant family that humans eat. Then they bring in a dish prepared with that species, like pineapple upside down cake, brownies, or banana cream pie. Our Tropical Thanksgivings tend to be heavy on desserts! #ecology #tropicalecology #tropicalbiology #ethnobotany #botany #plantbiology #thanksgiving
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[Thanks, Catherine! If YOU are an AOS member and would like to be featured here for a week, please get in touch.]
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