Skip to content

Experimental Adaptive Radiation -
Genomics of Diversification in Bird Lice

Sarah Bush & Dale Clayton

Adaptive radiation is the diversification of one lineage into multiple lineages that occupy different ecological niches. It is one of the most pervasive syndromes in the origin and proliferation of new taxa. Here we use experimental evolution to understand the functional, genomic and phylogenomic consequences of adaptive radiation. Our system - host specific bird lice - is a powerful model for research at the interface of micro- and macroevolution because lice are “permanent” parasites that can be experimentally evolved under natural conditions on captive birds. We are investigating the genomic architecture of host use, host specificity, and host switching. To do this we are studying the natural diversity of 60+ species of the feather louse genus Columbicola, which occur on pigeons and doves from around the world. We are also experimentally evolving new lineages of Columbicola columbae, which is found on feral Rock Pigeons (Columba livia).

Last Updated: 5/5/22