Steller's Jay Phylogeography
The Steller’s jay (Cyanocitta stelleri) is a species of jay that shows incredible morphological diversity across its range in the North and Central America. Our previous genetic work using nuclear DNA (microsatellites) and mitochondrial DNA has shown evidence of strong genetic structure across populations. This summer, I will be working closely with my mentor to thoroughly analyze both the microsatellite and mitochondrial DNA data to better understand patterns of population differentiation within the jays. Furthermore, we will also perform analysis of morphological and ecological niche data and compare them to the molecular data. Ultimately, we want to better understand the historical evolutionary processes that led to the amount of phenotypic divergences we see in Steller’s jays today.