Catalysis Meeting

Genome-enabled Research on Manakins

PI(s): Bette A Loiselle (University of Florida (Gainesville,FL))
Chris Balakrishnan (East Carolina University)
Michael Braun (Smithsonian Institution)
Alice Boyle (University of British Columbia)
Kimberly S Bostwick (Cornell)
Emily DuVal (Florida State University)
Barney Schlinger (UCLA)
Start Date: 1-Nov-2012
End Date: 31-Oct-2013
Keywords: behavior, ecology, evolutionary genetics, genomics, sexual selection

Darwin argued that sexual selection is a potent evolutionary force that enhances numerous traits of the sex upon which it acts. The manakin family includes ~40 species of Neotropical birds known for their elaborate courtship displays, anatomical specializations, striking male coloration, and complex social behaviors, which arise from intense sexual selection on males. The relative ease of study and fascinating biology of manakins have attracted a diversity of researchers, each exploring complementary aspects of manakin biology. Recently, it has become possible to determine the entire DNA sequence (the "genome") of individuals, facilitating study of the genetic basis of traits from coloration, to brain and bone structure, to social behavior. Such genomic data are now being generated for manakins, but due to methodological complexities, these data remain difficult to integrate with field studies. Accordingly, we propose a catalysis meeting to bring together scientists working on diverse aspects of manakin biology with researchers experienced in applying genomic tools to evolutionary questions. Our goal is to foster new interdisciplinary collaborations by strategically combining our varied expertise and datasets to utilize the unique learning opportunities that manakins offer. To date, most genomic studies in natural environments have focused on classic systems such as fruit flies and mice. Collaborations developed at this meeting will expand evolutionary and ecological genomic research to a novel natural system. Manakins are excellent models for genomic studies because they are characterized by extensive trait variation and are the subject of long-term individual-centered studies across diverse geographic locations and environments.