Faculty Sponsor

Dr. Robert Ricklefs

Final Abstract for URS Program

In a recent expedition to the Bahamas, the morphological observations of many of the individuals captured bore plumage with coloration that was characteristic of M. stolidus. A species that has up to this point, been considered allopatric. Documented distributions in the West Indies for Myiarchus flycatchers are indicative that while the M. stolidus inhabits Hispaniola and Jamaica, the Bahamas are the native habitat of M. sagrae. In a report from Joseph et al., questionable boundaries were discussed between the two species by highlighting that within a comprehensive Myiarchus phylogeny, M. sagrae is shown as paraphyletic, yet M. stolidus forms a polyphyletic grouping by sharing the most recent common ancestor with M. sagrae. Preliminary analyses here further support these questionable boundaries between M. stolidus and M. sagrae, both genetically and morphologically. Our objective is resolving this taxonomic discrepancy and in doing so, allowing for a better understanding of the demographic history and distributions of these species to assess comprehensively, the avian phylogeography in the West Indies. Morphological variation found among specimens from the same region measured and sampled at the Field Museum of Natural History in Chicago, along with sequence data at one mitochondrial marker procured from recent field work form the basis for the preliminary analyses. Proposed analyses include sequence capture of ultra-conserved elements (UCEs) both of contemporary and historical specimens, along with results in data from many loci across the genome. Furthermore, recordings acquired from the Macaulay audio library at Cornell University will be included as well so as to provide an assessment of vocal variation.

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