Ben Marks

Collections Manager, Birds

Gantz Family Collections Center
Science Focus

    I am an evolutionary biologist with an emphasis in biogeography of birds.  I use museum specimens to study biogeographic patterns at various spatial scales.  My research interests span the fields of systematics, population genetics, phylogeography, conservation biology, and historical biogeography.

    Understanding the mechanisms that lead to the formation of new species (speciation) is central to evolutionary biology.  I am interested in the contemporary and historical factors that have played a role in driving population divergence in widespread species, as these same factors may lead to the formation of new species.  From a conservation perspective, the more we can learn about species distributions and the factors that have contributed to their extent and limits, the better prepared we will be to conserve biodiversity.

    At a broader geographic scale than my phylogeographic work, I’m interested in understanding phylogenetic relationships of bird families with primarily paleotropical distributions, or those who reach their peak diversity in the African and Asian tropics.  Recently, I’ve worked on projects investigating family-level systematics of Kingfishers, Bee-eaters  and Bulbuls and Greenbuls.

    Education and Work

    B.S. The Evergreen State College

    M.S. Illinois State University

    PhD. Louisiana State University


    Han, K-L., E. L. Braun, R. T. Kimball, S. Reddy, R. C. K. Bowie, M. J. Braun, J. L. Chojnowski, S. J. Hackett, J. Harshman, C. J. Huddleston, B. D. Marks, K. J. Miglia, W. S. Moore, F. H. Sheldon, D. W. Steadman, C. C. Witt & T. Yuri. in press. Are transposable element insertions homoplasy free? An examination using the avian tree of life. Systematic Biology

    Voelker, G., R. K. Outlaw, S. Reddy, M. Tobler, J. M. Bates, S. J. Hackett, C. Kahindo, B. D. Marks, J. K. Peterhans, & T. P. Gnoske. 2010. A new species of black boubou from the Albertine Rift (Passeriformes: Malaconotidae: Laniarius). Auk. 127: 678-689.

    Lim, H.C.,  F. Zou, S. S. Taylor, B. D. Marks, R. G. Moyle, G Voelker andF. H. Sheldon. 2010.Phylogeny of magpie-robins and shamas (Aves: Turdidae:Copsychusand Trichixos): implications for island biogeography in Southeast Asia.  Journal of Biogeography.  37: 1894-1906.

    Marks, B.D. 2010.Are lowland rainforests really evolutionary museums?: Phylogeography of the Green Hylia in the Afrotropics.  Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution. 55: 178-184.

    Arnold, K. A., and B. D. Marks.  2009.  Recent Texas Specimens of Red-Footed and Brown Boobies.  Bull. Texas Orn. Soc. 42: 1-2.

    Weckstein, J. D., B. D. Marks, R. G. Moyle, K. P. Johnson, M. J. Meyer, J. Braimah, J. Oppong, and J. Amponsah, 2009. Birds recorded from surveys in Ghana's Central and Brong-Ahafo regions. Malimbus. 31:28-46.

    Kimball, R.T., Braun, E.L., Barker, F.K., Bowie, R.C.K., Braun, M.J., Chojnowski, J.L., Hackett, S.J., Han, K-L., Harshman, J., Heimer-Torres, V., Holznagel, W., Huddleston, C.J. Marks, B.D., Miglia, K.J., Moore, W.S., Reddy, S., Sheldon, F.H., Smith, J.V., Witt, C.C., Yuri.  2009. T. A well-tested set of primers to amplify regions spread across the avian genome. Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution. 50: 654-660.

    Harshman, J., Braun, E.L., Braun, M.J., Huddleston, C.J., Bowie, R.C.K., Chojnowski, J.L., Hackett, S.J., Han, K-L., Kimball, R.T., Marks, B.D., Miglia, K.J., Moore, W.S., Reddy, S., Sheldon, F.H., Steadman, D.W., Steppan, S.J., Witt, C.C. and Yuri, T.  2008.  Phylogenomic evidence for multiple losses of flight in Ratite birds. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America. 105: 13462-13467.

    Hackett, S.J., Kimball, R.T., Reddy, S., Bowie, R.C.K., Braun, E.L., Braun, M.J., Chojnowski, J.L., Cox, W.A., Han, K-L., Harshman, J., Huddleston, C.J.,   Marks, B.D., Miglia, K.J., Moore, W.S., Sheldon, F.H., Steadman, D.W., Witt, C.C., and Yuri, T.  2008. A phylogenomic study of birds reveals their evolutionary history. Science.  320:1763-1768.

    Marks, B. D., J. D. Weckstein, and R. G. Moyle.  2007.   Molecular phylogenetics of the bee-eaters (Aves: Meropidae) based on nuclear and mitochondrial DNA sequence data. Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution.  45: 23-32.

    Zou, F., H. C. Lim, B. D. Marks, R. G. Moyle, and F. H. Sheldon. 2007. Molecular Phylogenetic Analysis of the Grey-cheeked Fulvetta (Alcippe morrisonia) of China and Indochina:  A case of remarkable genetic divergence in a "species". Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution.  44: 165-174.

    Moyle, R. G.,  J. Fuchs, E. Pasquet, and B. D. Marks. 2007.  Feeding behavior, toe count, and the phylogenetic relationships among alcedinine kingfishers.  Journal of Avian Biology.  38: 317-326.

    Moyle, R. G., and B. D. Marks. 2006. Phylogenetic relationships of the bulbuls (Aves: Pycnonotidae) based on mitochondrial and nuclear DNA sequence data. Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution.  40:687-695.

    Marks, B. D. and Willard, D.E.  2005.  Phylogenetic relationships of the Madagascar Pygmy Kingfisher (Ispidina madagascariensis). Auk.  122: 1271-1280.

    Marks B. D., J.D. Weckstein, K.P. Johnson, M.J. Meyer, J. Braimah, and J. Oppong.  2004.  Rediscovery of the White-necked Picathartes (Picathartes gymnocephalus) in Ghana. Bulletin of the British Ornithologist Club. 124(2): 151-153.

    Marks, B. D, T.P. Gnoske, and C.K. M. Ngabo.  2003.  Additions to the avifauna of Bwindi Impenetrable forest and Echuya Forest Reserve, Uganda. Scopus.  23:1-6.

    Marks, B. D., A.P. Capparella, and S.J. Hackett.  2002.  Historical Relationships among Neotropical Lowland Forest Areas of Endemism as Determined by Mitochondrial DNA Sequence Variation within the Wedge-billed Woodcreeper (Aves: Dendrocolaptidae: Glyphorynchus spirurus). Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution.  24: 153-167.