Eliot Miller, Cornell University and the Macaulay Library: Woodpecker plumage evolution: mimicry, convergence, or neither?
13:00 - 14:00
Dr. Eliot Miller
Cornell University and the Macaulay Library
Seminar Room House 4, Tea & Coffee 12:30h
Dr. Maude Baldwin
The external appearance of an organism reflects selection from multiple drivers, including abiotic factors such as climate and substrate, and potentially biotic factors such as sexual selection and mimicry. Woodpeckers are an excellent group to examine how external phenotypes evolve because they occupy a broad range of climates across many habitats, and display patterns of rapid divergence and striking convergence. Here we show that both habitat and climate profoundly shape plumage evolution. However, we also find a strong signal that many species exhibit remarkable convergence not explained by these factors or shared ancestry. Instead, this convergence is associated with geographic overlap between species, suggesting occasional, strong selection for interspecific mimicry. Consequently, both abiotic and biotic factors, including interspecific interactions, are potent drivers of phenotypic evolution.