Category Archives: Uncategorized


I recently heard the great news that I was awarded an NSF Doctoral Dissertation Improvement Grant from the Phylogenetic Systematics Panel at the Division of Environmental Biology! The title of my grant is “Integrative species delimitation, cryptic coloration, and climatic niche breadth in a widespread, recent radiation of songbirds.” Super excited!


Review in the Auk

I am a co-author along with numerous other colleagues on a review article that was a product of a symposium that I participated in during the AOUCOS 2014 meeting in Estes Park, Colorado. The review came out yesterday along with a press release from the Auk—huzzah!

Link to review:

Link to press release:

AOU/COS 2015 in Norman, Oklahoma

I just returned from an excellent AOU/COS meeting in Norman, Oklahoma where I presented a study on macroevolutionary patterns of avian vocalizations. I was fairly involved with a variety of student-oriented activities, including the 10th Annual Student Quiz Bowl, an Introduction to R Workshop, and a Careers in Ornithology Workshop. I also had various meetings and interactions related to AOU committees that I serve on—I was pretty exhausted by the end of the whole thing! Although there were fewer registrants than usual, the meeting was a lot of fun socially with fantastic live bands during the Bird Jam and ample opportunities for socializing and networking. Already looking forward to next year for the NAOC in Washington D.C.!AOUCOS2015_Transparent

Evolution 2015

I had a fantastic time at Evolution 2015. It was great to reunite with old friends and colleagues and make new connections. I saw a lot of excellent talks on current research, including some particularly strong student talks. I even was able to see a few tanagers (i.e., Green-headed Tanager, Red-necked Tanager, and Brazilian Tanager) on my first day there! Here’s the first slide from the talk I gave, which is a preview of a forthcoming paper on macroevolutionary rate heterogeneity of avian vocalizations.


Paper on the distribution of Acorn Woodpeckers in Colombia

A manuscript co-authored with friend and colleague, Ben Freeman, was published yesterday in PLoS ONE. In this manuscript, we study the distribution of Acorn Woodpecker (Melanerpes formicivorus) in South America, which is restricted to Colombia.


The distribution of Acorn Woodpecker (Melanerpes formicivorus). Interestingly, its distribution is restricted to the Colombian Andes in South America. In this paper, we use a niche-modelling approach to investigate the abiotic and biotic factors that influence this species’ distribution.

Using a niche-modelling approach, we find evidence that the presence of Colombian Oak (Quercus humboldtii), the lone species of oak in South America, improves the predictive abilities of niche models.


Ecological niche models constructed using only abiotic variables (A, D), only the presence of Quercus oaks (B, E), and a combined data set of abiotic variables and the presence of Quercus oaks (C,F).

Jan Lifjeld writes a perspective on redpoll article in Molecular Ecology

Dr. Jan Lifjeld wrote an eloquent perspective on my recent manuscript with Scott Taylor. In his perspective, Dr.  Lifjeld provides an nice summary of our work and reflects on the implications that our manuscript holds for avian taxonomy in the genomics era. The two pictures below appear in Lifjeld’s perspective and illustrate the phenotypic diversity present in what we believe is a single, yet incredibly fascinating, species.

RedpollBoquet1 RedpollBoquet2

Which Came First: The Cavity or the Cup?

Jennie Miller recently published a nice write up of the manuscript that Sahas Barve and I recently published in the Ibis. The article appears through the Citizen Science Blog of the Cornell Lab of Ornithology and provides a succinct summary of our main findings regarding evolutionary associations between different life history traits in Old World flycatchers. There are also some really neat data visualizations done by Kevin Ripka.

Check it out here: