NIMBioS postdoctoral fellow Jeremy Beaulieu’s recent work in a study of evolution in pigeon and doves garnered a mention in Nature last week.
“Behavioural changes and the adaptive diversification of pigeons and doves,” published in Proceedings of the Royal Society B, posits that changes in behavior can cause changes in the physical shape of pigeons and doves.
As fourth author on the paper, Beaulieu lent his statistical expertise to the study, which analyzes the links between changes in behavior and physical characteristics in 156 species of dove and pigeon. The models found that when some birds changed from terrestrial to arboreal foraging behavior, this hastened the evolution of shorter tarsi and longer tails.
At NIMBioS, Beaulieu, who recently completed his Ph.D. in ecology and evolutionary biology at Yale University, is developing a new set of ancestral state reconstruction methods, which make more realistic assumptions about how characters evolve across large phylogenies.