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Angela Parody Merino
Institute for Agriculture & Environment
College of Sciences
Genetics of the timing of migration in bar-tailed godwits
Bird Migration is perhaps one of the most extraordinary behaviours observed in nature. Bar-tailed godwits (Limosa lapponica baueri) are extraordinary avian migrants performing the longest recorded non-stop flight from Alaska to New Zealand (11,690 km). They leave New Zealand from early March to early April. This month-long departure span reflects a latitudinal gradient on the breeding grounds, with southern-breeders leaving earlier than northern breeders. Individual godwits show remarkably consistent year-to-year in when they leave New Zealand on migration. The control of migration timing is believed to involve changes in daylength, but that in itself cannot explain how individual birds at given site maintain consistency different schedules, therefore, a significant genetic component may be implicated. My PhD will look for associations between migration departure times and genotypic variation in candidate genes. The genome of a godwit has been sequenced. Building on this resource I will;
- analyse population structuring using microsatellites;
- look for association between individual migration departure times and sequence variation/genotype at candidate genes.
My PhD thesis aims to better understand and characterize underlying mechanisms linking genetic variation and migration departure timing.
With my research I try to understand better the link between genes and behavior in natural populations. There are many experimental studies trying to understand this, but not many using a free-living species. Besides, I count on the godwit genome, which is neither usual to have from a wild species.
The scientific community would benefit from having more knowledge about the association between genotype-phenotype in natural populations, and more specifically on how genes influence migratory behavior in birds.
I am from Spain (Seville), where I finished my undergraduate. Then I did my masters in Ecuador. It was a dream to study in New Zealand for the amazing and unique bird biodiversity. My plan, when I finish my PhD, is continuing my scientific career focusing on genetics, conservation and, if possible, with birds.
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Last updated on Monday 30 January 2017