In 2016 I had the honor of participating in a project to describe the Cordillera Azul Antbird as a species new to science. Published in 2018, we gave the bird the latin name of Myrmoderus eowilsoni in honor of the Myrmecologist and father of biodiversity, Dr. E. O. Wilson. The species is currently known only from the type locality in the Cordillera Azul of northern Peru, but we hope that additional field work in the area will result in additional known localities for the species. This same mountain range is home to two other bird species described to science in the last 20 years, so hopefully more discoveries await! You can read all about this discovery in the paper linked under the Publications page on this site. Popular press articles are available here and here.
My current research focus is the comparative phylogenetics of river island bird specialist species in the Amazon Basin. This community of birds are restricted to scrub habitats on seasonally flooded islands in the Amazon and Orinoco Rivers and their major tributaries. The map of northern South America at right illustrates the highly linear distribution of this ecosystem. I am interested in how dispersal and high linearity of habitat affect gene flow and population structure in this system.
My undergraduate thesis focused on the flocking dynamics and long-term social interactions in the Golden-crowned Sparrow (Zonotrichia atricapilla) in the lab of Dr. Bruce Lyon. Using a wintering population of color banded birds, we were able track individuals and associations between individuals on a small spacial scale. Using these data, and lead by Dr. Diazaburo Shizuka, we were able to show that individuals associate with each other more than expected by chance, and that these associations last across years.