Postdoctoral Fellow

A comparative phylogenetic approach to the study of insular avian phenotypes

PI(s): Gregor Yanega
Start Date: 1-Aug-2009
End Date: 30-Jul-2011
Keywords: phylogenetics, biogeography, macroevolution, comparative methods

Islands hold a venerated place in the history of evolution and biogeography as some of the most recognized examples of adaptive radiations and morphological diversification. Recent molecular and morphological data, including data from fossil specimens, enable large-scale re-evaluation of the macroevolutionary patterns associated with the generation of diversity in island avifauna communities. I will unite ecological, reproductive, and morphological trait data for island birds to examine what characteristics make these taxa unique, and I will use phylogenetic comparative methods (e.g. sister clade comparisons, tests for phylogenetic signal) to examine how they differ from their mainland counterparts. For a subset of cases, specifically island nectarivores, I will take a phylomorphological approach to study patterns of convergence and specialization with respect to geography and evolutionary time.

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Publications
  • Elastic instability model of rapid beak closure in hummingbirds M.L. Smith, G.M. Yanega and A. Ruina. 2011, Elastic instability model of rapid beak closure in hummingbirds, Journal of Theoretical Biology, volume 282, issue 1, pp. 41-51
  • Pouch morphology and function in brown pelicans, Pelecanus occidentalis. Yanega, G.M., & Meyers, R.A. 2010. Pouch morphology and function in brown pelicans, Pelecanus occidentalis. Integrative & Comparative Biology 50: E316.
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