My research interests are broad, but recently I've become more focused on the distribution and demography of species, and how these processes have been shaped by human activity.
I'm currently a postdoctoral researcher in the Scordato lab at California State Polytechnic University, Pomona, studying the demography and evolutionary history of commensal swallows in Southeast Asia and Oceania, and how human activity has shaped these processes.
I received my PhD in the Burns lab at San Diego State University, where I studied behavior and hybridization between Allen's (Selasphorus sasin) and Rufous (Selasphorus rufus) Hummingbird.
A side project from my dissertation, focusing on the colonization of the southern California mainland (from the Channel Islands) by non-migratory Allen's Hummingbird, was just published in Ecology and Evolution! We found that Santa Cruz Island (one of the northern islands) was the most diverged, which is consistent with other work on Channel Island taxa. We also found no evidence of a founder effect on the mainland, even though the colonization was relatively recent (~60 years ago)-this may be a result of ongoing gene flow with migratory Allen's Hummingbird and continued gene flow with non-migratory Allen's Hummingbird populations on the mainland. Finally, ecological niche models project that non-migratory Allen's Hummingbird will continue its range expansion in the near future, north along the coast, possible as far as the San Francisco Bay area, and inland in southern California, potentially into Kern, San Bernardino, and Riverside counties. Here's a link to the full text.
September 2020: I recently received my PhD in evolutionary biology in the Burns lab at San Diego State University/the University of California, Riverside. My remaining unpublished chapters on the population genetics and demography of Allen's and Rufous Hummingbird, as well as a behavioral sequence analysis paper, where we identify discrete units of courtship behavior common to Allen's and Rufous Hummingbird, and identify novelty within their hybrids, will be submitted academic journals before the end of 2020. I am also wrapping up a great intern experience with the United States Geological Survey in San Diego, where I am working on a bat management plan that aims to identify and protect areas of exceptional need to bat species in San Diego County. This will also be submitted to a journal before the end of 2020.
October 2019: A recent interview with The Wildlife Society was just posted on their website, check it out here: https://wildlife.org/researchers-discover-hummingbird-hybrid-zone/. As is pointed out in the interview article, I'm highly suspicious this hybrid zone, although it arose naturally, is larger than it would be in the absence of human disturbance and landscape alteration. I have preliminary data that shows high levels of gene flow from Rufous Hummingbird, far into the range of migratory Allen's Hummingbird, and additional data showing migratory Allen's is undergoing a population decline. Thus, hybridization might be affecting the long-term viability of migratory Allen's (although non-migratory Allen's populations are expanding rapidly and doing just fine). I plan on looking into this in the future, possibly as part of a postdoc project!
September 2019: The first chapter of my dissertation work, a paper titled "Behavioral and morphological evidence of an Allen’s × Rufous Hummingbird (Selasphorus sasin × S. rufus) hybrid zone in southern Oregon and northern California" was just published by The Auk: Ornithological Advances! This paper introduces the Allen's x Rufous Hummingbird hybrid zone using phenotypic data (genomic data will be coming in a subsequent paper) and looks at the role of sexual selection on courtship behaviors in maintaining species barriers between Allen's and Rufous. We also identify several new traits/behaviors that characterize Allen's and Rufous Hummingbird and their hybrids. Excited to share this and looking forward to sharing some more of my work soon! Read it here. There are also some news articles out about the paper-here are a few links:
There are also some news articles out; here are a few:
The AOS website: https://americanornithology.org/researchers-identify-previ…/
Science Daily: https://www.sciencedaily.com/releas…/2019/…/190917075835.htm
July 2019: The first chapter of my dissertation work, a paper titled "Behavioral and morphological evidence of an Allen’s × Rufous Hummingbird (Selasphorus sasin × S. rufus) hybrid zone in southern Oregon and northern California" was just accepted by The Auk: Ornithological Advances. This paper introduces the Allen's x Rufous Hummingbird hybrid zone using phenotypic data (genomic data will be coming in a subsequent paper) and looks at the role of sexual selection via courtship displays in maintaining species barriers between Allen's and Rufous. We also identify several new traits/behaviors that characterize Allen's and Rufous Hummingbird and their hybrids. Excited to share this once it is published!
May 2019: My first publication just came out in the June 2019 edition of Western Birds (link here)! This one is based on my work as an undergraduate, and investigates the effects of drought on coastal sage scrub bird communities using long-term data. I'm excited to finally be able to share some of the science I've done!
February 2019: I recently had my first manuscript accepted for publication (in the final phases of editing) and am at work on three different manuscripts regarding Allen's and Rufous Hummingbird, the first of which is a description of the hybrid zone, which seems to span from Humboldt County, CA, through Lane County, OR. Other projects I am currently working on include the phylogeography of Allen's Hummingbird and an in-depth description and comparison of courtship behavior in Allen's and Rufous Hummingbird.
2018: Check out what I've been up to! Satellite tracking of my route and current location for my 2018 field season can be found here: https://share.garmin.com/BrianMyers3. From March through May I'll be conducting field work, sampling the inland transect in northern California, and eventually advance into central and southern Oregon along the coast. I'll provide updates and pictures on my travels as often as possible.
2017: We've officially been award a grant from the National Science Foundation (NSF)! "The National Science Foundation hereby awards a grant of $xxx to San Diego State University for support of the project entitled 'Collaborative Research: Admixture mapping of a hybrid zone to test Tinbergen's emancipation hypothesis'. This award starts April 15, 2017 and ends March 31, 2020." The project this grant is funding is described on the "Research" page.
Brian Myers, PhD
San Diego State University
Department of Biology