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The origin of the ratites, large flightless birds from the Southern Hemisphere, along with their flighted sister taxa, the South American tinamous, is central to understanding the role of plate tectonics in the distributions of modern birds and mammals. Defining the dates of ratite divergences is also critical for determining the age of modern avian orders.(More)
Ornithogenic soil is derived from the deposition of the fecal matter of various species of birds and is a major source of nutrient input in the Antarctic marine ecosystem. A significant proportion of microbiota of ornithogenic soil collected from an Adélie penguin colony in eastern Antarctica (Vestfold Hills ice-free zone) consisted of gram-negative,(More)
Ancient DNA (aDNA) research has long depended on the power of PCR to amplify trace amounts of surviving genetic material from preserved specimens. While PCR permits specific loci to be targeted and amplified, in many ways it can be intrinsically unsuited to damaged and degraded aDNA templates. PCR amplification of aDNA can produce highly-skewed(More)
Mitochondrial (12SrRNA and cyt b, 1086 bp) and nuclear (c-mos, 374 bp) DNA sequences were used to investigate relationships and biogeography of 24 living and extinct taxa of Phelsuma geckos. Monophyly of Phelsuma and sister relationship to the SW African Rhoptropella is corroborated. Phelsuma originated on Madagascar and made multiple long-distance(More)
The Black Rat (Rattus rattus) spread out of Asia to become one of the world's worst agricultural and urban pests, and a reservoir or vector of numerous zoonotic diseases, including the devastating plague. Despite the global scale and inestimable cost of their impacts on both human livelihoods and natural ecosystems, little is known of the global genetic(More)
Ancient mitochondrial DNA sequences were used for investigating the evolution of an entire clade of extinct vertebrates, the endemic tortoises (Cylindraspis) of the Mascarene Islands in the Indian Ocean. Mitochondrial DNA corroborates morphological evidence that there were five species of tortoise with the following relationships: Cylindraspis triserrata(More)
Apparently ancient DNA has been reported from amber-preserved insects many millions of years old. Rigorous attempts to reproduce these DNA sequences from amber- and copal-preserved bees and flies have failed to detect any authentic ancient insect DNA. Lack of reproducibility suggests that DNA does not survive over millions of years even in amber, the most(More)
European chickens were introduced into the American continents by the Spanish after their arrival in the 15th century. However, there is ongoing debate as to the presence of pre-Columbian chickens among Amerindians in South America, particularly in relation to Chilean breeds such as the Araucana and Passion Fowl. To understand the origin of these(More)
The pebble-mimic dragon lineage of Tympanocryptis is widely distributed in the stony, or 'gibber', deserts of Australia but is noticeably absent from intersecting areas of sand deserts. Past fluctuations in the extent and configuration of sandy desert habitat barriers are likely to have been an import factor promoting genetic differentiation in this group.(More)
Geographic variation in vocalizations is widespread in passerine birds, but its origins and maintenance remain unclear. One hypothesis to explain this variation is that it is associated with geographic isolation among populations and therefore should follow a vicariant pattern similar to that typically found in neutral genetic markers. Alternatively, if(More)