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May 26, 2021

4:00pm Zoom Webinar

24th Annual Biology Research Symposium Lecture

" Novel Approaches to Understanding the Adaptive Radiation of Darwin's Finches "

Jaime Chaves

Department of Biology, San Francisco State University

Darwin’s finches are a model to study evolution and are widely known as an example of adaptive radiation. New approaches are advancing our knowledge of the way natural selection has, and is shaping this iconic bird radiation. From genomic tools to link molecules to phenotypes, the use of these techniques has allowed identifying the building blocks of beak variation (candidate genes). Infrared thermal imaging has shown the role of beak variation in thermal regulation and heat loss suggesting an alternative axis of natural selection on beak size. The study of the gut microbiome as a tool to understand the consequences of diet specialization in these birds has revealed the unique adaptation to blood-feeding in vampire finches. Finally, studying the effects humans have on wildlife, finches have proven to respond in terms of beak evolution and microbiome adaptation to urbanization. Darwin’s finches have contributed to the advancement of our understanding of the mechanisms shaping life on earth, this iconic group of birds are still holding secrets that only time and novel research techniques will be able to reveal.

Host: Tom Smith