I use Next Generation Sequencing techniques to study the genomic-level changes that take place during the speciation process, in an island colonising bird, the silvereye (Zosterops lateralis). This species is widely distributed across the south Pacific having repeatedly colonised islands across the region since its origin within the Australian mainland, over a range of timeframes and demographic histories. Making use of this variation my doctoral research examined how divergence occurs at both broad and fine temporal and geographic scales addressing questions such as: How does gene flow shape patterns of divergence at the genomic level? What are the genomic consequences of population founding? and What are the roles of genetic drift and selection in driving rapid morphological divergence?
As a postdoctoral research assistant, I am responsible for the development of a genotyping-array designed to provide targeted sequencing of genomic regions underlying repeated patterns of change seen in island fauna. These changes, often referred to as the ‘island syndrome’, include behaviour, such as increased tameness; ecology, such as having a wider ecological niche; morphology, such as changes in body size; life history, such as having fewer offspring but living longer; and population-level characteristics, such as having high population densities.