VIDEO: Hybridization in birds with Shawn Billerman and Kathryn Grabenstein

BOW Team March 6, 2023
Pied x Black Stilt (hybrid)Himantopus leucocephalus x novaezelandiae

Thanks for joining us for our webinar, Hybridization in BirdsIf you’d like to revisit the presentation, or if you missed it the first time, you can watch the recording here.

In December, we added a new section of content to species accounts called “Hybridization.” This section dynamically integrates multimedia of known hybrids into species accounts so that the appearance, location, and ecology of these hybrid crosses are available for study and comparison.

Hybrid screenshot from BOW

To demonstrate the power of this new ‘Hybridization’ feature, two Cornell Lab of Ornithology evolutionary biologists discusses this complex phenomenon and how this section may be useful for research. After a short presentation that addressed the relevance of hybridization to biology, taxonomy, conservation, and evolution, Shawn Billerman and Kathryn Grabenstein answered questions from the audience.


Shawn Billerman, Science Editor for Birds of the World.
Shawn has expertise in systematics, taxonomy, and evolutionary biology. As co-author of Bird Families of the World, he has particular interest in higher level taxonomy and speciation. As part of his dissertation research at the University of Wyoming and postdoctoral research at the Lab of Ornithology, Shawn studied hybridization in sapsuckers, towhees, and orioles using genetic data, climate data, and behavior data to understand differences that can lead to the evolution of species.

Kathryn Grabenstein, Rose Post-doctoral Fellow at the Cornell Lab of Ornithology. Formerly, Kathryn was a NSF Predoctoral Fellow at CU Boulder working with Dr. Scott Taylor in the Ecology & Evolutionary Biology Department studying hybridization in Colorado chickadees. Combining genomics with field studies, she explores hybridization in human contexts: specifically, when humans transform earth’s landscapes (build cities, construct dams, etc.) they can create conditions where naturally co-occurring species hybridize. She investigates how human habitat disturbances drive hybridization and the evolutionary consequences of this hybridization for species. For her dissertation work, she founded and directed the Boulder Chickadee Study as an experimental framework and citizen science network to explore the natural histories of Colorado chickadees, and to improve our understanding of how humans shape evolutionary trajectories in backyard songbirds.

Contributor: Jen Walsh, Research Associate at the Cornell Lab

When: THURSDAY, 23 March, 2023

Length: 1 hr, 30 min