My primary focus is on the evolution and plasticity of migration. Specifically, I am interested in how birds adjust their migratory behavior in response to both short- and long-term environmental changes, and the relative contributions of individual plasticity and "hard-coded" evolutionary changes in these responses. I am also interested in how modifications in migratory behavior arise and propagate in a population, and how migration can influence diversification.
Doppler weather surveillance radar allows us to monitor bird migration at continental scales. With BirdCast and OU Aeroecology, I study the navigational decisions songbirds make when migrating over the USA and help publish migration forecasts for the public.
I'm tracking Blackcaps that spend the winter in the UK – something they've only begun doing in recent decades – to understand what has led to this new migratory strategy.
I use genomic tools to understand genome-wide patterns of divergence in closely related bird species. I worked with stonechats (genus Saxicola) from across the Old World to study the evolutionary processes shaping differentiation.
The neotropical Sapayoa has puzzled scientists since it was first described with the species name aenigma. And with good reason: its closest relatives, the Old World suboscines, live on the opposite side of the globe. We learned that the social and breeding biology of the species is just as interesting as its taxonomic status. Videos.