New grant on island biogeography of birds led by Frank Rheindt’s lab

Our lab will collaborate on a new grant awarded to Frank Rheindt’s lab, looking at island biogeography of birds in Southeast Asia. We will seek to understand the factors that have structured bird diversity in the region over the last ~2 million years, using field data and molecular data from Frank’s lab to test the predictions of theoretical models from our lab.

Southeast Asia has a unique biogeographical history, which has left a strong signature on the region’s flora and fauna. Fluctuating sea levels have periodically exposed the shallow continental shelf, during which times many of the region’s islands have been connected to the mainland. Compared to continuously isolated islands, islands that have been connected in the past tend to have more species overall but fewer endemic species.

The grant is a Tier 2 grant awarded by Singapore’s Ministry of Education.

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These two study species are closely related, but the Barusan Green Pigeon tends to occur on long-isolated islands, whereas the Thick-billed Green Pigeon tends to occur on the Southeast Asian mainland and islands that have been recently connected to it.