Research

Ornithology Division, Burke Museum of Natural History and Culture
Department of Biology, University of Washington

Most of the research done in the Klicka Lab is specimen-based and centered around our molecular laboratory facility.  Here we generate DNA sequences that are used to reconstruct phylogenetic hypotheses of organismal relationships.  The phylogenetic “trees” that we generate are essential to properly study the evolution of various behaviors, morphological traits, and geographic distributions.  The latter is the focus of much of the research done in our lab, where we begin by identifying the units of biodiversity and then attempt to understand the origin and maintenance of this diversity in an ecological and biogeographic context.  We also work in the area of conservation genetics.  In this work, we use population genetics to identify genetically unique populations, define population boundaries, estimate current and historic population sizes, and estimate the degree of gene flow into and out of populations of concern.  By enhancing our understanding of regional biodiversity in this way, natural resource managers are able to make better-informed conservation decisions.

Another primary function of the Klicka Lab is the continued building and maintenance of the avian research collection in the Burke Museum.  This collection represents an permanent record of avian biodiversity that is not only used in many contemporary studies, but also will be available for use by future generations of researchers.  Our recent growth has been focused on montane regions of western North America, Mexico, and Middle America, with most specimen collection focused on particular research questions.  We routinely make loans of specimen material [search the UWBM collection] available to outside researchers, and provide identification services to the public and various Federal and State agencies.  We regularly answer queries concerning the birds of this region and welcome any interested persons to visit our collections.