How Do New Bird Species Arise

Featuring Silu Wang 
Thursday, June 16 —  7 p.m. via Zoom

In the evergreen forest of the Pacific Northwest, two species of wood warbler that hybridize are on the brink of forming a new species. A more northern species, the Townsend’s Warbler Setophaga townsendi and a more southern species, the Hermit Warbler Setophaga occidentalis, overlap in range and hybridize. This provides a natural laboratory for understanding the process by which new species arise. By leveraging genomic sequencing, field behavior experiments, and climate and color pigment analyses, we have uncovered the evolutionary genetic basis of speciation in these very precious wood warbler species. I will also discuss why we should treasure existing wildlife species, as speciation is a reversible and treacherous process.

About Our Speaker

Born in China, Silu Wang immigrated to Canada to study integrative biology. She received a B.S. in Behaviour, Genetics, and Neurobiology at University of Toronto, a master’s degree in Ecology, Evolution, and Behavior at the University of Texas, Austin and a PhD at the University of British Columbia, specializing in bird speciation. She is now a postdoc at the University of California, both the Berkeley and Davis campuses. Her website is