I am interested in processes of incipient speciation, or the initial stages of how one species becomes two. My research focuses on the evolutionary history of birds in the Andes.
As a graduate student I am examining leapfrog patterns of plumage variation and high elevation hybrid zones in a group called the flowerpiercers (Thraupidae: Diglossa). The genus Diglossa provides an ideal system to study incipient speciation because it contains birds at three different levels on the speciation continuum: isolated population-level differentiation, secondary contact with hybridization, and secondary contact without hybridization. The replicated contact zones and repeated plumage patterns found in Diglossa make for a natural evolutionary experiment, allowing me to understand the drivers of speciation in one of the most biodiverse mountain ranges in the world.
All of my research has a foundation in natural history. I have a strong background in museum science, specimen-based studies, and field biology.