Zoology Internship: Genetic & Morphologic Structure in the Barred Owl

2012 Undergraduate Summer Internship

Project Description: Barred Owls (Strix varia) occur throughout North America. Across this large range, there are well documented plumage patterns which are believed to have weak geographic structure. Using modern tissue samples and traditional specimens we will assess the degree to which plumage patterns correlate with genetic differentiation across a large number of individuals that have been prepared by the Bird Division in recent years. These specimens come from throughout the Midwest and Florida. The analyses, including assessment of both genetic and morphologic data, will quantify whether or not there is a correlation between coloration, morphology and genetic structure in these birds. Interns will receive training in measuring and scoring coloration patterns in traditional museum specimens. They will receive training in DNA extraction, PCR, and sequencing in the Museum’s core genetics facility, the Pritzker Laboratory and the DNA Discovery Center. Interns also will learn the basics of sequence data and phylogeographic analyses.

Project Leaders: Dr. John Bates (Associate Curator) & Josh Engel (Research Assistant)