Jeremy J Austin

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The degree to which widespread avian blood parasites in the genera Plasmodium and Haemoproteus pose a threat to novel hosts depends in part on the degree to which they are constrained to a particular host or host family. We examined the host distribution and host-specificity of these parasites in birds from two relatively understudied and isolated(More)
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)
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)
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)
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)
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)
A radiation of five species of giant tortoises (Cylindraspis) existed in the southwest Indian Ocean, on the Mascarene islands, and another (of Aldabrachelys) has been postulated on small islands north of Madagascar, from where at least eight nominal species have been named and up to five have been recently recognized. Of 37 specimens of Madagascan and(More)