AOS meeting
01 Jul 2019

Three members of our research group traveled to Anchorage, Alaska to participate in the 2019 American Ornithological Society meeting. Jessica McLauglin participated in a symposium on hybrid zones and I gave a symposium talk on using genomics to evaluate species limits. Sidney Vong enjoyed a bunch of talks and got to talk to lots of ornithologists.

Peggy in remission
01 May 2019

My wife, Peggy, has been battling Hodgkin’s Lymphoma for the past six months, and has been undergoing chemotherapy for the last five months. Today her doctor informed us that she is in remission and she shows no sign of active cancer. Thank you to everyone who supported us during Peggy’s treatment, and I especially want to thank my lab for your patience during this time.

Jess passes orals
27 Apr 2019

Jess McLauglin passed her oral and written examination. She is formally a doctoral candidate. Congrats!

Thrasher phylogenomics published
01 Apr 2019

Our paper on the pyhylogenomics of West Indian trembers and thrashers is published. A great collaboration with Jeff DaCosta, Jen Mortensen, Bob Curry, J. Michael Reed, and Mike Sorenson.

Vireo Conservation genomics funded
09 Mar 2019

The Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation has funded a pilot research project in our lab to investigate population structure and inbreeding depression in Oklahoma Black-capped Vireos. This is a collaboration with Ornithology Research Associate We will be re-sequencing whole genomes for this project. Brandon Alacrón will assist on the project.

2018 Panama Expedition
15 Jul 2018

Caio and MJM visited Jose Loaiza and INDICASAT in July. We traveled to Meteti, Darien. We did some in the field amplification of mosquitoes mtDNA and their viral pathogens. Later, Jessica and MJM traveled to Veraguas near Rio Luis to collect birds near the coast.

Nanopore Sequencing for Macrosystems
01 Jul 2018

We successfully amplified COI and sequenced the DNA barcode fragment of from 12 NEON pitfall traps as the first step in our NSF Funded Macrosystem Project. Sequencing was done using the Oxford Nanopore Minion in MJM’s kitchen.

Aedes phylogeography published
30 May 2018

A great paper on the phylogeography and colonization dynamics of Aedes mosquitos in Panama. This work was led by Gilberto Eskildsen out of Jose Loaiza’s lab at INDICASAT. Proud to collaborate on this one.

Macrosystem Grant funded
30 Aug 2017

MJM along with four other OU Geographical Ecologists: Mike Kaspari, Cam Siler, Katie Marshall, and Mike Weiser were granted a five year NSF Macrosystem Award to develop non-invasive DNA sequencing and spatial imaging technologies to estimate species richness and biomass from NEON pitfall bycatch. With this data, we hope to quantify and predict how Earth’s great abiotic drivers–temperature, precipitation, and biogeochemistry–govern how ecological communities of soil insects vary from place to place.

Fall Independent Study
20 Aug 2017

Independent Study: Geography of Speciation — Fall 2017

This is an independent reading course that I have designed for Kevin Hawkins and Jessica McLaughlin, two PhD student in my lab. It is tailored to give them an historical, broad, and also deep perspective on the current state of thinking about the geography of speciation, especially as it relates to birds (since Kevin and Jessica’s dissertations focus on speciation in a New World birds). While many of these readings would be considered canonical, they also represent papers/systems (e.g. Heliconius) that have influenced my thinking about speciation. Many obvious papers were excluded because of Jessica and Kevin’s existing familiarity with the topic.

For the independent study, I will be meeting with the students once a week for 60 minutes. During that meeting we will discuss the three papers. 24 hours before our meeting, the students will provide me:

  • A printed copy of each paper that shows highlighting and annotations.
  • A summary of the paper. In the style of Jonathan Tonkin
  • A list of three key points of observations. Written in sentence style. Two to four sentences per observation.

Jessica, Kevin and I will meet once a week, for 11 weeks. Time and day of the week to be determined.

Week 1: The Canonical View of the Geography of Speciation

  1. Coyne and Orr, Chapters 1 & 2
  2. Coyne and Orr, Chapters 3 & 4

Week 2: Alternatives to Allopatric Speciation

  1. Endler, J.A., 1982. Problems in distinguishing historical from ecological factors in biogeography. American Zoologist, 22(2), pp.441-452.
  2. Patton, J.L. and Smith, M.F., 1992. MtDNA phylogeny of Andean mice: a test of diversification across ecological gradients. Evolution, pp.174-183.
  3. Jiggins, C.D. and Mallet, J., 2000. Bimodal hybrid zones and speciation. Trends in Ecology & Evolution, 15(6), pp.250-255.
  4. Smith, T.B., Wayne, R.K., Girman, D.J. and Bruford, M.W., 1997. A role for ecotones in generating rainforest biodiversity. Science, 276(5320), pp.1855-1857.

Week 3: Phylogenetics and Speciation

  1. Avise, J.C., Arnold, J., Ball, R.M., Bermingham, E., Lamb, T., Neigel, J.E., Reeb, C.A. and Saunders, N.C., 1987. Intraspecific phylogeography: the mitochondrial DNA bridge between population genetics and systematics. Annual review of ecology and systematics, 18(1), pp.489-522.
  2. Losos, J.B. and Glor, R.E., 2003. Phylogenetic comparative methods and the geography of speciation. Trends in Ecology & Evolution, 18(5), pp.220-227.
  3. Edwards, S.V., Kingan, S.B., Calkins, J.D., Balakrishnan, C.N., Jennings, W.B., Swanson, W.J. and Sorenson, M.D., 2005. Speciation in birds: genes, geography, and sexual selection. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 102(suppl 1), pp.6550-6557.
  4. Fitzpatrick, B.M. and Turelli, M., 2006. The geography of mammalian speciation: mixed signals from phylogenies and range maps. Evolution, 60(3), pp.601-615.
  5. Elias, M., Joron, M., Willmott, K., Silva‐Brandao, K.L., Kaiser, V., Arias, C.F., Piñerez, L.G., Uribe, S., Brower, A.V.Z., Freitas, A.V.L. and Jiggins, C.D., 2009. Out of the Andes: patterns of diversification in clearwing butterflies. Molecular Ecology, 18(8), pp.1716-1729.

Week 4: The Importance of the Pleistocene for Speciation in North American Birds

  1. Klicka, J. and Zink, R.M., 1997. The importance of recent ice ages in speciation: a failed paradigm. Science, 277(5332), pp.1666-1669.
  2. Avise, J.C. and Walker, D.E., 1998. Pleistocene phylogeographic effects on avian populations and the speciation process. Proceedings of the Royal Society of London B: Biological Sciences, 265(1395), pp.457-463.
  3. Klicka, J. and Zink, R.M., 1999. Pleistocene effects on North American songbird evolution. Proceedings of the Royal Society of London B: Biological Sciences, 266(1420), pp.695-700.
  4. Hewitt, G., 2000. The genetic legacy of the Quaternary ice ages. Nature, 405(6789), pp.907-913.
  5. Good, J.M., Hird, S., Reid, N., Demboski, J.R., Steppan, S.J., MARTIN‐NIMS, T.R. and Sullivan, J., 2008. Ancient hybridization and mitochondrial capture between two species of chipmunks. Molecular Ecology, 17(5), pp.1313-1327. Not avian, but important for Jessica and Kevin’s work

Week 5: Contemporary studies of North American Avian Speciation

  1. Milá, B., McCormack, J.E., Castañeda, G., Wayne, R.K. and Smith, T.B., 2007. Recent postglacial range expansion drives the rapid diversification of a songbird lineage in the genus Junco. Proceedings of the Royal Society of London B: Biological Sciences, 274(1626), pp.2653-2660.
  2. Klicka, J., Spellman, G.M., Winker, K., Chua, V. and Smith, B.T., 2011. A phylogeographic and population genetic analysis of a widespread, sedentary North American bird: The Hairy Woodpecker (Picoides villosus). The Auk, 128(2), pp.346-362.
  3. Toews, D.P., Taylor, S.A., Vallender, R., Brelsford, A., Butcher, B.G., Messer, P.W. and Lovette, I.J., 2016. Plumage genes and little else distinguish the genomes of hybridizing warblers. Current Biology, 26(17), pp.2313-2318.
  4. Bay, R.A. and Ruegg, K., 2017, March. Genomic islands of divergence or opportunities for introgression?. In Proc. R. Soc. B (Vol. 284, No. 1850, p. 20162414). The Royal Society.
  5. Good, J.M., Vanderpool, D., Keeble, S. and Bi, K., 2015. Negligible nuclear introgression despite complete mitochondrial capture between two species of chipmunks. Evolution, 69(8), pp.1961-1972. Follow up to Good et al. 2008.

Week 6: Phenotypic vs. Genetic Differentiation in Neotropical Birds

  1. Bates, J.M., Hackett, S.J. and Goerck, J.M., 1999. High levels of mitochondrial DNA differentiation in two lineages of antbirds (Drymophila and Hypocnemis). The Auk, pp.1093-1106.
  2. Aleixo, A., 2004. Historical diversification of a terra-firme forest bird superspecies: a phylogeographic perspective on the role of different hypotheses of Amazonian diversification. Evolution, 58(6), pp.1303-1317.
  3. Weir, J.T., Faccio, M.S., Pulido‐Santacruz, P., Barrera‐Guzmán, A.O. and Aleixo, A., 2015. Hybridization in headwater regions, and the role of rivers as drivers of speciation in Amazonian birds. Evolution, 69(7), pp.1823-1834.
  4. Winger, B.M. and Bates, J.M., 2015. The tempo of trait divergence in geographic isolation: avian speciation across the Marañon Valley of Peru. Evolution, 69(3), pp.772-787.

Week 7: Hybridization in North American Birds

  1. Harrison, R.G., Rand, D.M. and Wheeler, W.C., 1987. Mitochondrial DNA variation in field crickets across a narrow hybrid zone. Molecular Biology and Evolution, 4(2), p.144.
  2. Mallet, J., 2005. Hybridization as an invasion of the genome. Trends in ecology & evolution, 20(5), pp.229-237.
  3. Carling, M.D. and Brumfield, R.T., 2008. Haldane’s rule in an avian system: using cline theory and divergence population genetics to test for differential introgression of mitochondrial, autosomal, and sex‐linked loci across the Passerina bunting hybrid zone. Evolution, 62(10), pp.2600-2615.
  4. Seneviratne, S.S., Davidson, P., Martin, K. and Irwin, D.E., 2016. Low levels of hybridization across two contact zones among three species of woodpeckers (Sphyrapicus sapsuckers). Journal of Avian Biology, 47(6), pp.887-898
  5. van Els, P., Spellman, G.M., Smith, B.T. and Klicka, J., 2014. Extensive gene flow characterizes the phylogeography of a North American migrant bird: Black-headed Grosbeak (Pheucticus melanocephalus). Molecular phylogenetics and evolution, 78, pp.148-159.

Week 8: Heliconius as a model for studying the geography of speciation, part 1

  1. Jiggins, C.D., McMillan, W.O., Neukirchen, W. and Mallet, J., 1996. What can hybrid zones tell us about speciation? The case of Heliconius erato and H. himera (Lepidoptera: Nymphalidae). Biological Journal of the Linnean Society, 59(3), pp.221-242.
  2. Jiggins, C.D., Naisbit, R.E., Coe, R.L. and Mallet, J., 2001. Reproductive isolation caused by colour pattern mimicry. Nature, 411(6835), pp.302-305.
  3. Naisbit, R.E., Jiggins, C.D., Linares, M., Salazar, C. and Mallet, J., 2002. Hybrid sterility, Haldane’s rule and speciation in Heliconius cydno and H. melpomene. Genetics, 161(4), pp.1517-1526.

Week 9: Heliconius as a model for studying the geography of speciation, part 2

  1. Beltrán, M., Jiggins, C.D., Bull, V., Linares, M., Mallet, J., McMillan, W.O. and Bermingham, E., 2002. Phylogenetic discordance at the species boundary: comparative gene genealogies among rapidly radiating Heliconius butterflies. Molecular Biology and Evolution, 19(12), pp.2176-2190.
  2. Bull, V., Beltrán, M., Jiggins, C.D., McMillan, W.O., Bermingham, E. and Mallet, J., 2006. Polyphyly and gene flow between non-sibling Heliconius species. BMC biology, 4(1), p.11.
  3. Pardo-Diaz, C., Salazar, C., Baxter, S.W., Merot, C., Figueiredo-Ready, W., Joron, M., McMillan, W.O. and Jiggins, C.D., 2012. Adaptive introgression across species boundaries in Heliconius butterflies. PLoS Genet, 8(6), p.e1002752.

Week 10: Heliconius as a model for studying the geography of speciation, part 2

  1. Nadeau, N.J., Martin, S.H., Kozak, K.M., Salazar, C., Dasmahapatra, K.K., Davey, J.W., Baxter, S.W., Blaxter, M.L., Mallet, J. and Jiggins, C.D., 2013. Genome‐wide patterns of divergence and gene flow across a butterfly radiation. Molecular Ecology, 22(3), pp.814-826.
  2. Rosser, N., Kozak, K.M., Phillimore, A.B. and Mallet, J., 2015. Extensive range overlap between heliconiine sister species: evidence for sympatric speciation in butterflies?. BMC evolutionary biology, 15(1), p.125. (I especially want to see a careful review of the idea that the culture of ornithologists and lepidopterists contributes to fundamental ly-different ideas of how speciation works)
  3. Merot, C., Salazar, C., Merrill, R.M., Jiggins, C.D., & Joron, M. 2017. What shapes the continuum of reproductive isolation? Lessons from Heliconius butterflies. Proc. Roy Soc B 284:20170335.

Week 11: Contemporary views on the role of habitat variation in primary diversification

  1. Benham, P.M. and Witt, C.C., 2016. The dual role of Andean topography in primary divergence: functional and neutral variation among populations of the hummingbird, Metallura tyrianthina. BMC evolutionary biology, 16(1), p.22.
  2. Winger, B.M., 2017. Consequences of divergence and introgression for speciation in Andean cloud forest birds. Evolution.
  3. Alcaide, M., Scordato, E.S., Price, T.D. and Irwin, D.E., 2014. Genomic divergence in a ring species complex. Nature, 511(7507), pp.83-85.

Week 12: Where we are now, part 1

  1. Harrison, R.G. and Larson, E.L., 2014. Hybridization, introgression, and the nature of species boundaries. Journal of Heredity, 105(S1), pp.795-809.
  2. Roux, C., Fraisse, C., Romiguier, J., Anciaux, Y., Galtier, N. and Bierne, N., 2016. Shedding light on the grey zone of speciation along a continuum of genomic divergence. PLoS biology, 14(12), p.e2000234.
  3. Edwards, S.V., Potter, S., Schmitt, C.J., Bragg, J.G. and Moritz, C., 2016. Reticulation, divergence, and the phylogeography–phylogenetics continuum. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 113(29), pp.8025-8032.
  4. Zamudio, K.R., Bell, R.C. and Mason, N.A., 2016. Phenotypes in phylogeography: Species’ traits, environmental variation, and vertebrate diversification. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 113(29), pp.8041-8048.

Week 13: Where we are now, part 2

  1. Guerrero, Rafael F., and Matthew W. Hahn.2017. Speciation as a sieve for ancestral polymorphism. Online Early Molecular Ecology.
  2. Smith BT, Seeholzer GF, Harvey MG, Cuervo AM, Brumfield RT. 2017. A latitudinal phylogeographic diversity gradient in birds. PLoS Biology 15(4):e2001073.
  3. Hooper, D.M., 2016. Range overlap drives chromosome inversion fixation in passerine birds. bioRxiv, p.053371.
  4. Davidson J.H. and Balakrishnan C.N., 2016. Gene regulatory evolution during speciation in a songbird. G3: Genes, Genomes, Genetics 6: 1357-1364.
MJM signed letter confirming value of voucher specimens
27 Nov 2016

Matthew Miller was one of several Sam Noble curators to sign an important letter confirming the value of vouchers for species identification. That this is an issue is crazy. What is wrong with 2016?

I am recruiting PhD students
25 Nov 2016

Do you love Neotropical birds?
Do you love field expeditions in Latin America?
Want to do some serious genomics in one of the nation’s best university-based natural history museums?

I am recruiting 1-2 PhD students to join my lab in the Ornithology Department of the Sam Noble Museum at University of Oklahoma for the Fall 2017. Students should be willing to take a creative leadership role in the comparative genomics of secondary contact and speciation in Neotropical birds. These positions would involve considerable time in the field on expeditions in Latin America to collect birds, supported by the Sam Noble Oklahoma Museum Department of Ornithology.

The ideal student will have previous Latin American ornithological field experience, as well as the ability to understand and speak Spanish. Students from Latin America are particularly encouraged to apply. These projects will consist of developing genomic datasets from massively-parallel sequencing efforts (i.e. next gene sequencing) at the University of Oklahoma. Strong computational skills in UNIX, R and Python are a real plus. However, all potential students with strong field, lab, and museum ornithological skills are encouraged to contact me.

Students can undertake projects in two areas where we have existing datasets: either in the comparative genomics of secondary contact of lowlands birds (see Secondary Contact Project) or in the genomics of species isolation of Lampornis hummingbirds (see Lampornis Genomics Project), or the student can develop her/his own project. We have active funding for field research in Bolivia and Peru as well, so projects in this area could be developed.

Students in our lab are enrolled in either the Biology or closely allied Ecology and Evolutionary Biology PhD program, but maintain offices and a lab home in the Ornithology Department at the Sam Noble Oklahoma Museum of Natural History. The Ornithology Department consists of a fast-growing ornithological collection, state-of-the-art molecular genomics labs (capable of doing all NGS preparations including ddRAD-Seq, hybrid capture, and whole genome sequencing), multiple bioinformatics Linux workstations (as well as access to the OU Supercomputer), and an impressive ornithological research library.

OU Biology/EEB has a strong focus on “geographical ecology”, and our group participates in the Geographical Ecology working group, which is organized by Mike Kaspari (tropical community ecology), and includes the following faculty: Katie Marske (phylogeography) Katie Marshall (physiological ecology), Dan Allen (stream and riparian ecology) and Cam Siler (herpetology and systematics). Collectively, our group provides a rich environment for students to interact with these and other talented faculty and students in the Geographical Ecology working group and throughout the Biology department.

We are also allied with the Oklahoma Biological Survey, which has considerable strengths in ornithology. This includes Jeff Kelly’s lab, Eli Bridge’s group, and Jeremy Ross’s lab. Collectively, this makes OU among the best universities for ornithology in the country.

Funding for graduate students is currently available in the form of 10-month teaching assistantships with reasonable stipends, full tuition waivers and excellent health care coverage. In addition, students can expect to be funded during the summer by the OU Sutton Avian Research Scholarships, Adams Scholarships, and Curatorial Assistantships in Ornithology at the Sam Noble Museum. Our lab has existing funds for field expeditions and specimen collection, and there are several funding sources on campus and elsewhere for the development of next-generation genomic datasets. Norman is an amazing college town, and the cost of living is quite reasonable for graduate students.

Interested students should contact me ( with a brief summary of your research interests and relevant experiences and attach a CV. All prospective students must also apply through the OU Biology Graduate Program by mid December. Candidates from groups underrepresented in STEM are encouraged to apply. Se habla español aqui!

Tick ecology paper published
01 Nov 2016

Helen Esser led a new paper on tick assembly and host body size that is out in The International Journal for Parasitology: Parasites and Wildlife.

NIH Supplement funded
15 Sep 2016

Led by Bob Gilman, Jose Loaiza and I were awarded an NIH Training Grant Supplement to train Bolivian scientists on field and lab techniques to combat emerging mosquito-borne zoonoses such as Zika. Our first trip to Bolivia is in December.

New Lab!
05 Jun 2016

We’ve arrived in Norman! Our group is settling in to Norman, the University of Oklahoma, and the Sam Noble Oklahoma Museum of Natural History.

Over the summer, we will begin our first Great Plains collecting trip, return to Panama to export tissue duplicates back to our SNOMNH lab, and welcome Kevin and Krisangel to the group. It’s also a time for me to finish all the old manuscripts that have been lingering.

Tick-bird interaction paper
23 May 2016

We’ve published a new paper on tick-bird interactions from 3,500 Panama museum specimens.

Pan-Dengue meeting, April 2016, Panama City
09 Jan 2016

I have been invited to give an oral presentation of our Aedes albopictus expansion paper at the upcoming Pan-Dengue meeting sponsored by the Gorgas Memorial Institute in Panama City. It’s always fun to return to my adopted homeland and meet up with friends and collaborators.

Given the controversial nature of our paper, I’m expecting a some fireworks at the talk. But, it’s important to remember that everyone shares the goal of controlling, if not eliminating, serious vector-borne diseases such as dengue and Chikungunya…we just have different professional opinions on the best way to do that.

I'm moving to Oklahoma!
15 Dec 2015

I am thrilled to announce that starting June 2016, that I will be the Assistant Curator of Ornithology at the Sam Noble Oklahoma Museum of Natural History & Assistant Professor in the Department of Biology, University of Oklahoma.

If you are interested in joining my lab as a graduate student, please see this announcement.

Arremon mitogenome published
15 Sep 2015

Krisangel Lopez is firing on all fronts, as two days into her year in Peru, and her first peer-reviewed paper is published. That paper reports on the possibility of cryptic species of Orange-billed Sparrow (Arremon aurantiirostris) in Panama, on the basis of extreme sequence divergence reported in full mitogenomes from that country.

Krisangel is in Peru
13 Sep 2015

Krisangel Lopez, a former Villanova student collaborator, arrives in Lima, Peru for a 9 month internship with Robert Gilman’s International Health research group. Please take a moment and read about the wonderful work that La Familia Gilman is doing in Peru and Bolivia at the intersection of medicine, public health, development, and ecology! Bob is a hero of mine, and one day I hope to have just a fraction of the impact that he’s had using science to make the world a better place. I’m so happy that Krisangel gets to learn from the best!

West Indian Next-gen data!
03 Sep 2015

West Indian Rad-Seq data are back! Check out my Research page for some interesting preliminary analyses of the data!

2015 AOU Meeting
28 Jul 2015

I traveled to the 2015 American Ornithologists’ Union Annual Meeting in Norman, Oklahoma to give a talk on our exciting West Indian mimid biogeography. Found time to hook up with Jeff Peter’s smart and fun group!

Back to Panama
21 Jun 2015

I am traveling for a month to INDICASAT in Panama to collaborate with my BCE (best collaborator ever) Jose Loaiza to work on some fascinating climate change models for zoonotic disease vectors, interact with my PhD student, Celestino Aguilar, and begin a new project with two Swarthmore undergrads, May Dong and Robert Huang on a proteomic tick identification preliminary project. It’s going to be a wild month in Panama.

New Rad-Seq Collaboration!
17 Jun 2015

I visited Boston for two days to begin a new collaboration with Jen Mortenson, Jeff DeCosta, Mike Sorenson, Michael Reed, Kate Freeman, and Bob Curry on the historical biogeography and population genomics of the West Indian mimids using Mike and Jeff’s ddRAD-Seq impressive pipeline.

20 May 2015

PhD Student Celestino Aguilar and I are traveling to the SSB/ASN stand alone meeting in Ann Arbor to learn about all the new tools in phylogenomic biology, and to present a talk on our work on using ultraconserved elements in a Panamanian suture zone.