Beating the heat? Population genomics of climate change in Australian birds

Understanding how communities of organisms adapt to changes in climate has become an imperative challenge for conservation. However, integrative studies liking individual physiology and selection with population demography and phenotype remain few. We will build on recent and ongoing work, which has documented morphological responses by birds to temperature, namely through changes in body size, with direct measures of selection through changes in allele frequency, as measured through historical collections. The main thrust of this project will be to develop a cost-effective sequencing strategy that allows measuring changes in allele frequency across tens of different bird species over space and time, including hundreds of samples. We will do this by leveraging extensive tissue collections at CSIRO and ongoing field work. This project should allow us to (a) infer changes in demographic parameters as a function of changes in climate, and (b) potentially identify individual loci that respond to temperature. Beyond linking phenotype, demography and selection with climate change in birds, this project should provide a framework for other large-scale multi-species studies of adaptation and demography.

This project involves learning how to make next-generation sequencing libraries, analyze massive data sets, and will involve travel to the Okinawa Institute of Science and Technology (Japan) for training.