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We strive to understand the ecological and evolutionary mechanisms that generate and maintain biological diversity using population genomics, experimental manipulations, and field studies. Our goal is to not only test basic ecological and evolutionary theory, but also directly inform policy and management decisions that will ultimately determine the fate of biodiversity.

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Cameron Ghalambor, Scott Sillett, Brandt Ryder, Paul Hohenlohe, and Chris receive NSF grant to test mechanisms of microgeographic adaptation

Island scrub-jay (Aphelocoma insularis). Photo credit: Katie Langin

NSF has funded our collaborative research project aimed at understanding the mechanisms causing fine-scale adaptation in the face of ongoing gene flow in island scrub-jays. Growing evidence suggests that adaptive evolution can occur over small spatial distances. How this fine-scale adaptation arises and is maintained remains unresolved. On Santa Cruz Island, the Island scrub-jay has two morphologies. Birds in pine habitat have long and thin beaks where as those in oak habitats have short and deep beaks. These differences are known to facilitate feeding on pine cones versus acorns, but how such adaptive genetic differences are maintained over very small geographic distances is unknown. Our team will integrate modeling, genomics, telemetry, and behavioral experiments to uncover the mechanisms allowing this microgeographic adaptation. Funk Lab PhD student Rebecca Cheek will lead the dispersal and gene flow components of the project. Click here to read the NSF award abstract.

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