Molt-Migration in the North American Monsoon
Molting grounds are an important and poorly understood aspect of the lives of migratory birds. My current research uses museum resampling and population genomics to investigate the importance of the Mexican monsoon as a molting ground for migratory birds, and the effects of climate change on this system. I combine phenological measurements of molt timing with extraction of DNA from historical and modern specimens in species of birds that rely on the Mexican monsoon to complete their annual molts.
Evolution of Feather Molt Strategies
Feathers are a key innovation for birds because they provide many different functions for birds. Feather replacement strategies must balance the immediate needs for feathers with loss of function during molt. Birds show a diversity of molt strategies, but the evolution and mechanisms for this diversity have not been investigated. My research focuses largely on the evolutionary patterns and exogenous drivers of the diversity of molt strategies in birds.
Biogeography of Feather Growth
Life history events tend to vary across large spatial scales. In general, life history events are compressed away from the equator, but investment in reproduction also increases with respect to adult survival in temperate latitudes. Much research has focused on latitudinal gradients in investment in reproduction, but molt, the primary annual event birds use to invest in their own survival, has received little study from a biogeographic perspective. I seek to understand how large-scale geographic variation within birds ranges affects the pace and patterns of their molt.
Natural History of Tropical Birds
I am broadly interested in the Natural history of Tropical Birds, and have conducted field work in Bolivia, Peru, Brazil, Costa Rica, Mexico, the Dominican Republic, and Equatorial Guinea. In this work, I seek to document biodiversity andimprove understandings of habitats and ranges of poorly known birds.