Evolution of Brains and Behavior
How divergence of species or breeds drives different spatiotemporal patterns of adult neurogenesis and related singing behavior
Many birds exhibit dramatic phenotypic differences in behavior even across closely related subspecies or breeds. We are utilizing the powers of genetic linkage mapping and comparative genomics (genome scans) to explore questions like:
What determines whether a song bird is a close-ended versus open-ended learner? What are the genetic constraints on learning new vocalizations?
Do genetics, general brain morphology, and the spatiotemporal pattern of adult neurogenesis differ between closely related resident versus migratory subspecies? Are these differences related to behavioral isolation and species divergence?
Is singing ability (as determined by the human ear) heritable (canary breeders would say, "Yes!") and if so, what genetic patterns make for a "good" singer versus a "poor" singer?