Birdy Hour Speaker Series with Phred Benham
The Unique Evolutionary History of Salt Marsh Sparrows in the SF Bay Area
Life on the Edge: The Unique Evolutionary History of Salt Marsh Sparrows in the San Francisco Bay Area and Their Persistence in a Human-dominated Environment
Salt marshes lay at the edge of the land and sea with animals in these habitats exposed to the pressures of both realms. This is especially true for sparrows breeding in California's coastal marshes where they must cope with high salinity and daily tidal flooding. Adaptations to these challenges drive divergence from freshwater-adapted relatives and the evolution of highly unique populations. However, these specializations also leave these species uniquely vulnerable to the ever increasing human pressures on coastal habitats. Come learn how genomics and natural history collections are being integrated to study life on the edge in these salt marsh birds and document population responses to human development of the California coastline.
Phred Benham is a post-doctoral researcher at the Museum of Vertebrate Zoology at the University of California, Berkeley. Inspired by a childhood fascination with birds, he has pursued a career in ornithology. He received his B.Sc. from Louisiana State University, M.Sc. from University of New Mexico, Ph.D. from the University of Montana, and has studied birds around the world. He has broad interests in how birds have evolved and diversified into all the amazing species we share the world with today. In particular, he tries to understand the mechanisms that allow birds to persist in harsh, physiologically challenging environments, like the salt marshes of San Francisco Bay.
This talk is recommended for high school and up. Please register - the Zoom link will be sent in the confirmation. If you have any questions, please contact Sirena Lao, Environmental Education and Outreach Specialist, at email@example.com.
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