Population Genomics. The Red-tailed Hawk comprises many described subspecies that are widespread throughout North and Central America. Despite much debate on the validity and status of many of these subspecies, there have been no comprehensive population genomic investigations to aid in these debates. We aim to conduct the first comprehensive population genomic study of this species and potentially resolve long-standing questions related to the validity of current subspecies descriptions.
Phylogenomics. Within species phylogenies are rare, but with the advent of next generation techniques, it is now more possible to look at the evolutionary history and relationships at shallow levels of divergence. We aim to investigate the evolutionary history of the Red-tailed Hawk radiation and understand the relationships between each subspecies, potentially clarifying the history of such distinctive subspecies as harlani and kriderii.
Genomic mechanisms, adaptive selection and the evolution of polymorphism. The Red-tailed Hawk provides an excellent opportunity to investigate adaptive selection and the evolution of polymorphism because throughout its range there exists a natural laboratory of variability in plumage traits, habitat types, and life histories. Because of this unique opportunity, we aim to utilize the Red-tailed Hawk as a model system to investigate the genomic mechanisms involved in polymorphism, and the factors that may be responsible for the development and maintenance of these variable traits between populations.