A warm welcome to Dr. Natalia Garcia, who is joining our lab for six months as a postdoc. Natalia is broadly interested in the evolution of acoustic and visual communication in birds, and she has studied the effect of morphological constraints in the evolution of communication signals and the evolutionary drivers of sexual dichromatism. She is also interested in the relationship between divergent phenotypes and the genetic architectures that generate them, specifically from the point of view of achieving a better understanding of the speciation process.
At Cornell, she will be looking for differentiated areas of the genome between pairs of sister species of Empidonax flycatchers that are phenotypically almost identical yet can be identified by their diagnostic songs. As vocalizations are innate in these species, she hopes to find areas of the genome that are related to differences in their songs.
Before starting her postdoc at Cornell, Natalia spent two years as a postdoc in the Argentine Museum of Natural History in Buenos Aires. She obtained her PhD in 2016 from the University of Buenos Aires, in Argentina. She studied song and plumage color variation in the ‘blue clade’ of the Cardinalidae family (buntings and grosbeaks of the Amaurospiza, Cyanocompsa, Cyanoloxia and Passerina genera). Working in a museum has had a deep impact on her life. Natalia is fascinated by the many interesting questions that can be answered doing collection-based research. But she also really enjoys going to the field, so she tries to integrate both approaches to study different aspects of birds’ behavior, evolution and systematics.