Welcome to the Scordato lab! We investigate the mechanisms that drive large-scale phenotypic and genomic variation among populations, and determine how that variation contributes to the formation, maintenance, and erosion of reproductive barriers. We use a variety of tools to ask these questions, including next-generation sequencing and genomic analysis, behavioral observations, and long-term ecological and climatic datasets. Check out the website to learn more about our work.
Lab news & updates
July 2019: New preprint up on bioRxiv! http://biorxiv.org/cgi/content/short/698597v1. This is the culmination of many years of work studying continent-wide patterns of hybridization and migratory behavior in barn swallows. Excited to have it moving forward.
June 2019: Liz had great trips to the Evolution and Ornithology meetings. Meanwhile, Aurora is studying frogs as part of her REU program in Puerto Rico, Brenda is doing outreach in the Siuslaw National Forest in Oregon, Noel has been monitoring urban bird communities in SoCal as part of the RISE program, and Cathy is developing approaches for studying pesticide contaminants on swallow feathers. A busy and productive summer for everyone so far!
May 2019: Liz returned from an amazing workshop and symposium for early career researchers in Animal Behavior. Thanks to Claire Horner-Devine, Emilia Martins, and the National Science Foundation for such an incredible experience.
May 2019: New paper out in Trends in Ecology and Evolution on using networks to study fertilizations and social interactions in hybrid zones
May 2019: Brenda Ramirez was accepted to a summer internship program run by Environment of the Americas! She will be doing field research and science outreach in Siuslaw National Forest before starting her Masters research back in the lab this fall. Congrats, Brenda!
April 2019: Undergraduate students Brenda Ramirez, Cathy Trejo, and Aurora Willamsen presented their research at the CPP College of Science research symposium! They did an amazing job on their posters.
April 2019: Liz was awarded a New Investigator grant from CSUPERB and a Provost's Teacher-Scholar award from Cal Poly! These grants will fund our Oceanic swallow project.
April 2019: Liz had a successful stint of fieldwork in Sri Lanka, with only a mild case of dengue fever at the end...
March 2019: Congratulations to undergraduate student Aurora Williamsen, who was accepted to a summer REU program in Puerto Rico!
March 2019: Spring break plans are all set: two weeks of fieldwork in Sri Lanka with our collaborators at the University of Colombo. Excited to finally see some hill swallows.
February 2019: The semester is officially underway, with a new Animal Behavior class and lots of grant deadlines!
December 2018: Great wrap up to the semester, with PopGen students giving presentations on data they analyzed. Now ready for break + grant writing
November 2018: Seminar at OSU! Liz had a great time as a student-invited speaker, and got to catch up with PhD student Caroline Glidden- a former field assistant and CU alum. She is crushing it as a grad student.
November 2018: New paper out in Molecular Ecology! Demographic modeling by Chris Smith indicates extremely recent divergence in barn swallows- potentially facilitated by nesting in human structures.
October 2018: Liz had a great time giving a seminar at the other Cal Poly campus in San Luis Obispo. It's not often that you get to give a seminar and go surfing in the same trip. Thanks to Clint Francis for the invite!
October 2018: Month of papers continues. My longest-gestating paper, on how male competition drives song divergence in the greenish warbler ring species, is out at Evolution
October 2018: New paper out! Something a little different: Amanda Hund and I led a seminar on leadership and mentorship in science at the University of Colorado, and along with with several great co-authors, turned what we learned into a paper.
September 2018: Fall semester off to a busy start!
August 2018: Liz attended the International Ornithological Congress in Vancouver. It was so fun to participate in a great symposium on using genomic approaches to study sexual selection and speciation in the field.
July 2018: Pacific swallow samples shipped out for whole-genome sequencing. So excited to see what we find...
June 2018: New project studying Pacific swallows in southeast Asia with Amanda Hund was a wild success! Time to start sequencing...
May 2018: Had such fun giving a seminar at the Okinawa Institute of Science and Technology. Part of a great week catching Pacific swallows and talking with interesting scientists.
April 2018: New paper led by Liu Yu out in the Journal of Ornithology. This is a nice thesis chapter showing sexual selection for dark plumage color in a population of barn swallows in northeastern China.
March 2018: New field season! Liz is in Malaysia, Japan, and Fiji for two months starting a new project on Pacific swallows. I'll be posting updates for Miles O'Brien productions- check back regularly.
March 2018: First quarter of teaching done! So impressed and proud of the pop gen students, who finished the class by giving presentations on data they analyzed in R.
February 2018: Liz wrote a guest post for milesobrien.com on how human activity may shape signaling systems in birds. Such a fun experience, and so great to be able to write about evolution for a broader audience.
February 2018: After a massive and stressful push, proposal submitted to the NSF Dimensions of Biodiversity program! Fingers crossed for funding...
February 2018: Liz had a great time giving a seminar at UC Riverside. It's been fun getting to know the SoCal evolutionary biology community.
January 2018: Nice paper by Matt Wilkins accepted at BJLS! This paper describes song variation across most of the barn swallow complex. It also includes data from one of my top ten most harrowing days of fieldwork, when Matt, Georgy, and I were questioned by a jeep full of Russian soldiers after we unknowingly wandered too close to a Russian military base with a bunch of fancy song recording equipment.
January 2018: The Scordato lab has officially started at Cal Poly Pomona! It's so exciting to be here. Check out the new lab website!
January 2018: Liz had a great time at the American Society of Naturalists winter meeting in Asilomar, CA. It was great to present new analyses on barn swallow migratory divides and get positive responses and feedback.
December 2017: Opinion piece on the contribution of migratory divides to reproductive barriers accepted at Trends in Ecology and Evolution! This was led by CU PhD student Sheela Turbek- a pretty nice first thesis chapter.
November 2017: New synthesis paper on assortative mating and speciation with gene flow out at The American Naturalist! This paper came out of hours of discussion at two NESCent meetings and was led by terrific theoreticians.
October 2017: Review of the role of male competition in speciation accepted at Behavioral Ecology! This paper came out of a symposium at ISBE last summer and was led by Robin Tinghitella, Alycia Lackey, and Michael Martin. Such a fun paper to write.
October 2017: New paper on genome-wide differentiation, phenotypic variation, and assortative mating in wagtails online at Molecular Ecology. This project is the obsession of awesome collaborator Georgy Semenov. It was fun to work on this with him, and so exciting to see it finished!
August 2017: NSF grant submitted! Fingers crossed that our super cool proposal to keep working in barn swallow hybrid zones is funded.
July 2017: Paper on genomic variation across two barn swallow hybrid zones in Russia accepted at Molecular Ecology. This one was so much work- so nice to see it done! Early view here.
June 2017: Very excited to announce that I'll be joining the faculty of the Biological Sciences Department at Cal Poly, Pomona as an assistant professor. The Scordato lab will officially open for business in January 2018!
March 2017: A busy winter of grant writing recently capped by an excellent Gordon Research Conference and Gordon Research Seminar on speciation in Tuscany. Liz moderated a discussion section on sexual selection, reproductive isolation, and behavior in the early-career GRS, as well as present a poster on migratory divides in barn swallows at the GRC.
December 7, 2016: Paper on geographic variation in male territorial strategies is accepted at Animal Behaviour! This turned out to be the most difficult paper I've ever written, but also my favorite. You can find it here.
October 5, 2016: Becca and I wrote a dispatch for Current Biology about two excellent new papers on the genomic basis of phenotypic variation across avian hybrid zones (Toews, Taylor et al and Delmore et al). Look for it online in November!
Sept 12, 2016: Returned from ConGen2016- an intensive 5-day course on landscape genomics and next-gen sequence data analysis. Learned a ton, met some great people, and am full of new ideas for how to measure spatial variation in gene flow in barn swallows.
August 8, 2016: Back from the final conference of the summer: ISBE 2016! I participated in an excellent symposium on the role of male competition and speciation. Looking forward to working on a review paper with the other speakers!
June 23, 2016: Just returned from a fantastic Evolution meeting in Austin, TX, where current and former CU folks all gave great talks. I presented some new barn swallow data in the genomics spotlight session. It was exciting to hear all the great feedback and new ideas.
June 15, 2016: Paper with Becca Safran, Nolan Kane, and many other excellent colleagues accepted at Molecular Ecology. This one was a long time coming- we're very excited!
May 15, 2016: Our NSF pre-proposal, written with Becca Safran, Iris Levin, and Bailey Fosdick, was invited! We're hoping to return to some barn swallow hybrid zones and experimentally test patterns of assortative mating. July just turned into a mega writing month.
May 9, 2016: Back from a tremendously successful 3-week sampling trip to Morocco. We caught 160 birds at four different sites, hopefully sampling across a migratory divide. Updates coming soon to the blog.
January 17, 2016: An excellent meeting of the American Society of Naturalists in Asilomar, CA. Always nice to see great scientific talks in a fantastic natural setting.
September 20, 2015: Great meeting of the Guild of Rocky Mountain Ecologists and Evolutionary Biologists this weekend. It was fun to present brand new genomic data on barn swallow hybrids zones- and hear about all the excellent biological research going on in Colorado and Wyoming!
June 15, 2015: Fieldwork complete! The hybrid zone we went to China to find was exactly where I thought it would be. We spent two weeks in Gansu and two weeks in the northeast, catching lots more barn swallows. Updates on the blog.
May 3, 2015: We had a very successful field season in Egypt, and I'm turning right around to go to China. This summer we're targeting two potential hybrid zones we identified last year, part of a project funded by National Geographic. Updates will be on the blog, as always!
April 1, 2015: Field season time again! I'm off to Egypt to catch the savignii subspecies, with Amanda Hund and Dr. Basma Sheta, a lecturer in the Faculty of Science in Damietta. Updates on our adventures will be on the blog.
March 21, 2015: Just returned from an excellent Gordon Research Conference on speciation. I presented a poster on the barn swallow hybrid zones we found in Russia and got great feedback on our work from many heavyweights in speciation research.
November 26, 2014: A review of sexual selection and speciation in barn swallows I wrote with Becca Safran was accepted by Avian Research! We were invited to write this review by our wonderful colleague, Dr. Wei Liang, at Hainan Normal University in China.
October 20, 2014: Finished the last-ever meeting of our NESCent working group on animal decision making. Two great synthesis papers are nearly done, the result of lots of long hours of discussion. I've been going to NESCent meetings for 4 years now- they will be sorely missed!
September 28, 2014: Back from the American Ornithologist's Union conference, where I participated in an excellent symposium on speciation genomics. It was great to finally have some barn swallow data to present- and to see all the exciting work happening in other labs.
August 23, 2014: Our review of the empirical literature on the role of sexual selection in speciation is published in a special issue of the Journal of Heredity! This one was a beast to work on- so exciting to finally have it out.
July 25, 2014: Back from a successful field season! Three and a half months of catching barn swallows throughout China, Mongolia and Japan. Be sure to check the barn swallow project blog for updates and pictures from the field!
June 16, 2014: Paper on prevalence and beta diversity in avian malaria is online at Journal of Animal Ecology. This study was co-authored with former undergraduate honors student Melissa Kardish, now a PhD student at UC Davis.
May 25, 2014: Our paper on the genomic basis of divergence in the greenish warbler is published in Nature! This fantastic study was led by Dr. Miguel Alcaide and Dr. Darren Irwin at the University of British Columbia and co-authored by myself and Dr. Trevor Price from the University of Chicago. Good to see all those hard-earned Indian samples amounting to something exciting.
May 14, 2014: I was awarded a grant from the National Geographic Committee for Research and Exploration. This will complement our current work on speciation genomics in barn swallows by investigating the impact of human history and demography on patterns of gene flow between barn swallow subspecies.
April 17, 2014: Field season time! I'm off to China, Mongolia, and Japan for 3.5 months of fieldwork.
September 20, 2013: Our long-gestating paper on the roles of natural and sexual selection in the evolution of premating isolation is out at TREE. This paper emerged from a NESCent working group and is co-authored with Drs Rebecca Safran, Laurel Symes, Tami Mendelson and Rafa Rodriguez.