People | Research | Publications | Teaching | Community | News


Information      -      Past Lab People      -      Picture Gallery

 

Patrícia H. Brito

Ph.D. American Museum of Natural History/CUNY

Department of Organismic and Evolutionary Biology
Museum of Comparative Zoology
Harvard University
26 Oxford Street
Cambridge, MA 02138

phone: (617)-496-8387
fax: (617)-495-5667


pbrito@oeb.harvard.edu

 

 

Patricia

Research Interests:

My research integrates population genetics, phylogeographic, and systematic approaches to infer evolutionary processes that explain current patterns of genetic diversity. This research focus on the study of natural populations of birds where molecular genetic markers and coalescent-based approaches are used to address problems of speciation and hybridization, geographic variation, and gene flow.

During my doctoral research I carried out two phylogeographic studies that aimed to analyze the influence of historical processes, such as the Pleistocene glaciations, on current genetic structure of temperate and widespread birds. I studied the phylogeography of the tawny owl (Strix aluco) in western Europe, and the phylogeography of the ruffed grouse (Bonasa umbellus) in North America; the latter done in collaboration with George Barrowclough at the American Museum of Natural History.

I am also interested in studying diversification at higher hierarchical levels, and use phylogenetic trees to understand patterns of geographic and temporal diversification. I am carrying out the phylogenetic analysis of the genus Strix (including Ciccaba), and this work will result in a new taxonomic treatment of the Strix owls with particular focus on the re-assessment of the species limits.

Postdoctoral work with professor Scott Edwards addresses a classic problem of bird speciation on islands – the great speciators – by using a multilocus approach based on anonymous nuclear loci. The ‘great speciators’ first defined for birds in Northern Melanesia, comprises very abundant species with marked geographic variation whose dispersal propensity was considered intermediate. These three features were considered to form a paradox in that the observed degree of differentiation presumably requires sufficient dispersal so birds could reach many islands, yet not so much that differentiation is prevented. I am addressing this paradox by studying the speciation history of the white-eyes Zosterops [griseotinctus] of the Solomon archipelago, focusing on the geography and timing of genetic and morphological differentiation across this species-complex. This study integrates the new phase of avian speciation studies by linking genetic analyses of whole genomes with classic theoretical predictions to the study of natural populations.  This work is being done in collaboration with Chris Filardi (University of Montana).

 

Recent Publications

  • Brito, P.H. 2005. The influence of glacial refugia on Tawny owl genetic diversity. Phylogeography in Western Europe. Molecular Ecology 14: 3077-3094.
  • Brito, P.H. 2007. Contrasting patterns of microsatellite and mitochondrial population structure in Tawny owl populations from Western Europe. Molecular Ecology (in press).

  • Brito, P. H., Barrowclough, G. F., Gutiérrez, R. J., Zink, R. M., Groth, J., and Jablonski, B. Phylogeography of the Ruffed Grouse in North America. In prep.

Published Abstracts and Presentations

  • Brito, P. H. 2006. Contrasting patterns of genetic structure among western European populations of tawny owls based on mitochondrial and nuclear markers. Evolution meeting. Stony Brook University, NY. June 23-27.

  • Brito, P.H 2004. The influence of glacial refugia on Tawny owl genetic diversity. Phylogeography in Western Europe. Abstract of paper presented at the American Ornithologist’s Union meeting Université Laval, Québec, QC, Canada. August 16-21.

  • Brito, P.H., Barrowclough, G.F., Groth, J.G., and Gutiérrez, R.J. 2003. Do cold-adapted species require Pleistocene refugia? Phylogeographic history of the Ruffed Grouse in North America. Abstract of paper presented at the Evolution meeting. California State University, Chico, June 20-24, 2003.

  • Brito, P.H., Barrowclough, G.F. and Groth, J.G. 2001. Phylogeography contradicts current Tawny Owl taxonomy Phylogeography of the Tawny Owl. Abstract of paper presented in the Annual Meeting – American Ornithologists Union. University of Washington. Seattle, WA. August 16-18, 2001.


Grants

  • Fundação para a Ciência e Tecnologia, Ministry of Science and Technology, Portugal, Postdoctoral Fellowship SFRH/BPD/26852/2006: Multilocus approach to a great speciator: the speciation history of the white-eyes Zosterops [griseotinctus] species complex in the Solomon archipelago.
  • Frank M. Chapman Memorial Fund, American Museum of Natural History, Research Grant, Molecular Phylogeny of the genus Strix based on mitochondrial genes.
  • Frank M. Chapman Memorial Fund, American Museum of Natural History, Research Grant, Phylogeography of the tawny owl (Strix aluco) in the Western Palearctic.
  • Fundação para a Ciência e Tecnologia, Ministry of Science and Technology, Portugal. Ph.D. Fellowship PRAXIS XXI/BD/18557 /98.
  • FULBRIGHT Ph.D. Fellowship. Fulbright program and Luso-American Educational Commission.

 

Back to top