molecular evolution from a paleo perspective
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Reconstructing Pleistocene Beringia

This heading includes several more specific ancient DNA research projects currently underway in the Shapiro lab. We are interested in how Arctic species and populations respond to environmental and habitat change throughout the Pleistocene, and what role ecology, natural history, climate and community-level dynamics played in the megafaunal mass extinctions ca. 10-15,000 years ago. Key collaborators: Duane Froese, Grant Zazula, Daniel Mann.

The origin and evolution of polar bears

Polar bears are among the species most threatened by climate change. Using genomic and population genetic techniques, we aim to better understand the evolutionary relationships between polar bears and other, more closely related species of bears, focusing in particular on ancient and current hybridizations between polar bears and brown bears. We are particularly curious about what makes polar bears uniquely adapted to thier extreme Arctic environment.


The evolution of humans and archaic hominins

As part of a longstanding collaboration with Svante Pääbo and the Neandertal Genome Sequencing Consortium, we continue to work with genomic data from modern human populations and archaic hominins. We are particularly interested to learn more about what makes our lineage distinct from other hominins, and about the demography of admixture between our species and other, closely realted lineages.

from wikiedia commons

The rise and fall of the passenger pigeon

The passenger pigeon was an iconic North American bird whose population decllned from billions of individuals to extinction within less than a century. While we're pretty sure it was our (humans) fault, we still don't know how quickly that extinction happened,what exactly our role is, or wither it was at all avoidable. We are taking a geoimc approach to this question, and even thinking of ways to bring this bird back to life. Maybe. Key collaborators: Rob Fleischer, Helen James, Gary Graves, Tom Gilbert, Revive & Restore


The alligator genome and evolution of temperature-dependent sex determination

Like many reptiles, American alligators become eithe rmale or female depending on the temperature at which their developing embryos are incubated. Using a combination of genomic and transcriptomic data, we are investigating the mechanistic basis of this form of sex determination. Key collaborators: Ed Braun, Satomi Kohno, Lou Guillette.


The evolution of the domestic horse lineage

Are feral horses that roam the North American west today genetically different from the wild horses that went extinct in North America at the Pleistocene/Holocene transition? We are using a range of genomic and population genetic techniques to address this question, and to learn about the origin and diversification of modern equids and the process of domestication. Key collaborators: Ludovic Orlando, Ross MacPhee.











Extracting and characterizings DNA from fossil remains.

Understanding the evolutionary constraints underpinning diversity and evolution in pathogens

Investigating patterns and processes in genome evolution.