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Integrative Biology and Evolutionary Diversity in the Junco


Integrative Biology and Evolutionary Diversity in the Junco

At birdfeeders and in backyards across North America, the dark-eyed junco, or snowbird, can be found foraging for its next meal. With an estimated population of at least 630 million, juncos inhabit forests, parks, and even suburban habitats, making them one of the continent’s most abundant and easily observable songbirds. But while common and widespread, juncos also exhibit extraordinary diversity in color, shape, size, and behavior across their range, making them ideal study subjects for biologists interested in ecology and evolutionary diversification.

Intended for scholars, citizen scientists, and amateur ornithologists, alike, Snowbird synthesizes decades of research from the diverse and talented researchers who study the Junco genus. Though contributors approach their subject from a variety of perspectives, they share a common goal: elucidating the organismal and evolutionary processes by which animals adapt and diversify in response to environmental change. Placing special emphasis on the important role that underlying physiological, hormonal, and behavioral mechanisms play in these processes, Snowbird not only provides a definitive exploration of the junco’s evolutionary history and behavioral and physiological diversity but also underscores the junco’s continued importance as a model organism in a time of rapid global climate change. By merging often disparate biological fields, Snowbird offers biologists across disciplines an integrative framework for further research into adaptation, population divergence, and the formation of new species.

416 pages | 8 color plates, 20 halftones, 14 line drawings, 6 tables | 6 x 9 | © 2016

Biological Sciences: Behavioral Biology, Biology--Systematics, Ecology, Evolutionary Biology, Physiology, Biomechanics, and Morphology


“Longitudinal studies of organisms in the wild are the gold standard for understanding the complexity and dynamics of the evolutionary process. . . . Snowbird is focused on a songbird that has become a workhorse for integrative long-term research: the dark-eyed junco. . . . However, this book is much more than an exploration of a particular bird: it is an authoritative example of how to do integrative biology thoroughly, and thoroughly well.”

Rebecca J. Safran, University of Colorado, Boulder | Evolution

“In Snowbird, editors Ketterson and Atwell have pulled together a book that captures the best of the species-account tradition while delving into issues of mechanisms that might better reflect the model system approach. . . . Unusual and valuable. . . . It will be interesting to see if this book will stimulate additional treatments at the species level that try to integrate ecology/evolutionary thinking with work on physiological mechanisms. Both communities could benefit from such thinking.”

Gregory F. Ball, University of Maryland | Animal Behaviour

Snowbird is about juncos, but it is about so much more than a small genus of birds. The contributors to this volume have done a wonderful job of illustrating how a research focus on just one taxonomic group can greatly benefit multiple fields of biology. . . . A well-planned, integrative volume. . . . The final chapter is presciently titled, ‘Standing on the Shoulders.’ . . . Snowbird represents an impressive set of shoulders on which to stand and guide us as we learn about our natural world.”

Jerry Husak, University of St. Thomas | Journal of Field Ornithology

“A must have for anyone with a serious interest in juncos.”

Ian Paulsen | Birdbooker Report

“Within North America, the Junco, or snowbird, is frequently spotted in numerous locations. Ketterson and Atwell dive into a thorough discussion of the biological aspects of this bird species. Topics within the work include species evolution, sex hormone experimentation, adaptation to novel habitats, breeding and social interactions, song development, and possibilities and outlooks for future research. The Junco is presented as a bird with a quick rate of evolution; currently, there are fifteen recognized subspecies. In a few locations, reproductive isolation occurs between some Junco taxonomies. This work, which is intended for students and ‘science professionals,’ is readily accessible. The chapters that discuss hormonal research and song development will be especially valuable for future researchers. Also, this book will pique the interest of general readers, who may have spied a few types of Junco in their own backyard. By reading this title, scientists and birders will gain new respect for this small songbird. Recommended.”

M. Gochfeld, Rutgers Robert Wood Johnson Medical School | Choice

“An interesting, thorough, and timely summary of decades of work on juncos. It will be of interest to not only ornithologists, but also behavioral ecologists, comparative physiologists, and evolutionary biologists.”

Zachary Cheviron, University of Montana

“An excellent, very readable, comprehensive, and diverse set of papers. It is clear the authors have made a great effort to integrate two perspectives, with several chapters dealing with this explicitly. The combination of the very strong existing reputation of the Ketterson lab, including substantial, significant contributions to the integration of organismal and evolutionary biology, with the broad appeal of the junco, a common, widely distributed species familiar to many, will make for a popular tome.”

Tony D. Williams, Simon Fraser University | author of "Physiological Adaptations for Breeding in Birds"

“I truly enjoyed reading Snowbird! The book is aimed at scientific readers, but it is written very elegantly, providing an easy and pleasant read. Even though it focuses on one species complex, it is amazingly broad in its approach, ranging from historic aspects of junco research to biogeography, taxonomy, endocrinology, behavior, evolution, speciation, sexual selection, and other topics. The authors did an excellent job in explaining the concepts that guided their research, thus appealing to both specialists and a broader audience of readers. The last chapter of the book is devoted entirely to outlining future research areas, again both in specific and broader areas of biology, which will be very useful for everyone aiming at continuing in the spirit of integrative research on major organismal questions. Snowbird will be an important addition to the scientific literature.”

Michaela Hau, Max Planck Institute for Ornithology

Table of Contents


Chapter 1. Introduction
Ellen D. Ketterson and Jonathan W. Atwell

PART I. Opportunities and Challenges in Evolutionary and Integrative Biology Presented by the Avian Genus Junco

Part 1 Narrative Preamble

Chapter 2. The Junco: A Common Bird and a Classic Subject for Descriptive and Experimental Studies in Evolutionary and Integrative Biology
Ellen D. Ketterson and Jonathan W. Atwell

Chapter 3. Axes of Biogeographic Variation in the Avian Genus Junco: Habitat, Morphology, Migration, and Seasonal Timing, with Implications for Diversification under Heteropatry
Jonathan W. Atwell, Dawn O’Neal, and Ellen D. Ketterson

PART II. Hormones, Phenotypic Integration, and Life Histories: An Endocrine Approach

Part 2 Narrative Preamble

Chapter 4. Phenotypic Engineering: A Long-Term Study Using Hormones to Study Life-History Trade-Offs and Sexual Conflict
Nicole M. Gerlach and Ellen D. Ketterson

Chapter 5. Hormonal Pleiotropy and the Evolution of Correlated Traits
Joel W. McGlothlin and Ellen D. Ketterson

Chapter 6. Individual Variation and Selection on Hormone-Mediated Phenotypes in Male and Female Dark-Eyed Juncos
Kristal Cain, Jodie M. Jawor, and Joel W. McGlothlin

Chapter 7. Diving Deeper into Mechanism: Individual and Sex Differences in Testosterone Production, Sensitivity, and Genomic Responses
Kimberly A. Rosvall, Christine M. Bergeon Burns, and Mark P. Peterson

PART III. Evolutionary Diversification in the Avian Genus Junco: Pattern and Process

Part 3 Narrative Preamble

Chapter 8. More than Meets the Eye: Lineage Diversity and Evolutionary History of Dark-Eyed and Yellow-Eyed Juncos
Borja Milá, Pau Aleixandre, Sofía Alvarez-Nordström, and John McCormack

Chapter 9. The Potential Role of Parapatric and Alloparapatric Divergence in Junco Speciation
Trevor D. Price and Daniel M. Hooper

PART IV. Mechanisms of Divergence among Populations

Part 4 Narrative Preamble

Chapter 10. Shifts in Hormonal, Morphological, and Behavioral Traits in a Novel Environment: Comparing Recently Diverged Junco Populations
Jonathan W. Atwell, Danielle J. Whittaker, Trevor D. Price, and Ellen D. Ketterson

Chapter 11. A Physiological View of Population Divergence: Comparing Hormone Production and Response Mechanisms
Christine M. Bergeon Burns and Kimberly A. Rosvall

Chapter 12. Mate Choice in Dark-Eyed Juncos Using Visual, Acoustic, and Chemical Cues
Danielle J. Whittaker and Nicole M. Gerlach

Chapter 13. Dark-Eyed Junco Song: Linking Ontogeny and Function with a Potential Role in Reproductive Isolation
Gonçalo C. Cardoso and Dustin G. Reichard

Chapter 14. Standing on the Shoulders: Agendas for Future Research Addressing Evolutionary and Integrative Biology in a Rapidly Evolving Songbird
Ellen D. Ketterson and Jonathan W. Atwell


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