The primary goal of my work is to delineate the specific factors of anthropogenic activity that affect wild populations the most and to identify how human disturbance affects the underlying genetic architecture of these populations. If you're interested in joining my lab, send me an email and be sure to include a resume/cv that includes your GPA and an idea of what you would like to study.
Does human activity perpetuate hybridization between migratory Allen's and rufous hummingbird?
Much of my research to date has focused on helping discover and unravel the hybrid zone between migratory Allen's and rufous hummingbird. Currently, my interests in the hybrid zone are two-fold: 1) I am interested in a question fundamental to evolution. Specifically, which traits and underlying genetic regions are important to the process of speciation between these species? 2) These two species (and hummingbirds in general) thrive in response to increases in human activity. I am interested in the role that humans have in shaping the hybrid zone and perpetuating hybridization between Allen's and rufous. Generally, human activity homogenizes habitat and can create an environment that encourages hybridization between species. Although it arose naturally, this zone is likely much larger than it would be in the absence of human disturbance and landscape alteration. I want to disentagle the specific factors that increase rates of hybridization (if they do, which I think they probably do) between these species.
How has human activity influenced the recent evolutionary history of the Oceanic clade of swallows?
The Oceanic swallows are a small clade of species found throughout Oceania and southeast Asia. They comprise a mixture of commensal and non-commensal lineages and populations. Specifically, the commensal populations are human-commensals, meaning that they rely on human development for survival. I am studying how anthropogenic activity has shaped the demography and evolutionary history of this clade over the last several thousand years by leveraging a whole-genome dataset and performing population genetic, phylogenetic, and demographic analyses. I am also interested in finding out how commensalism originated in the clade, and am exploring the regions of the genome that are under selection for commensalism.
Are there signatures of anthropogenic disturbance on the genomes of the bat community?
For the last few years I have worked on the conservation and management of bat species in San Diego County with the United States Geological Survey. One impactful result is that the Townsend's big-eared bat (Corynorhinus townsendii) and the pallid bat (Antrozous pallidus), two California Species of Special Concern, are rarely observed in areas with high levels of urbanization. I am currently attempting to determine other factors of anthropogenic activity that adversely affect these two species, and bats in general. Next, I want to investigate the population health and structure of local populations of Townsend's big-eared bat and pallid bat. Do these species exhibit high or low genetic diversity? Are they well-connected to each other?