April 26, 2023
12:00pm, PST 1100 TLSB
Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County
" Flashy feathers and microscopic mechanisms: How and why birds are colorful "
The central goals of the Ornithology department at the Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County are twofold: 1) understanding the origin and functions of biological traits, and 2) assessing ecological and evolutionary responses to anthropogenic changes. In this talk, first I will introduce some of the current research projects happening in the department. Second, I will detail research projects on the evolutionary history of an important avian trait – feathers. I will discuss current and previous research on the evolution of coloration, one feather function. Next, I will introduce how feathers are composed of hierarchical structures, and how a comprehensive understanding of their evolutionary history requires studying how different levels of this hierarchy contribute to the ability feathers have to perform many functions simultaneously and at different times. I will focus on recent work on feather microstructures and how variation in this previously unappreciated hierarchical level contributes to variation in color and pattern. I will end with a look to the future and make recommendations for studying the evolution of colors with a more holistic view.
Host: Morgan Tingley