SURF

Joshua Penalba

Phylogeography of the Orange Ground Thrush (Zoothera gurneyi) of the Eastern Arc Mountains, Africa

The Eastern Arc Mountains of Africa have been identified as an area of high bird diversity and endemism. The forests on these mountains underwent a contraction creating sky islands. Diversity of the forest habitat suggests that the Eastern Arc Mountains served as a refuge during the Pliocene climate cycling. Current molecular technology has allowed for discovery of cryptic taxa between the sky islands. Insights in the genetic structure of populations lead to further understanding of the driving forces of evolution for endemic taxa. There is a high likelihood that similar structure may be detected in the Orange Ground Thrush (Zoothera gurneyi). The present day range of this species encompasses discontinuous, contracted forests in the Eastern Arc Mountains. With the use of various molecular markers, the extent of gene flow can be measured between these montane forests. Information from this study may serve in future conservation measures for this declining species.

Message to Sponsor

With graduate school applications fast approaching, SURF serves as an invaluable opportunity to pursue research in a field that I am passionate about. It provides a pathway to a good foundation in research skills including, but not limited to: lab work, literature research, and analytical skills. It also provides the unique opportunity to carry a project through from the beginning to the end while networking with other researchers in the field. This is a great stepping stone in the path to a career I have always been passionate for: evolutionary biology.
  • Major: Integrative Biology
  • Sponsor: Pergo Fund
  • Mentor: Rauri Bowie, Integrative Biology