|Male variable seedeater (Sporophila corvina).|
For decades scientists have struggled to understand all of the varied forces that give rise to distinct species. Mr. Campagna and his research team studied a group of nine species of South American seedeaters (finches) to understand when and how they evolved.
The study found differences in male reproductive plumage and in some key aspects of the songs that they use to court females. Now, the group is looking to find the genes that underlie these differences, as these so-called candidate genes may well prove to be responsible for the evolution of a new species. This will allow researchers to gain insights into evolution.
"Studies like ours teach us something about what species really are, what processes are involved and what might be lost if these and other species disappear."
Campagna's research co-supervisor is Stephen Lougheed, who is an Acting Director of QUBS (Queen's University Biological Station) and an associate professor in the Department of Biology. QUBS has been a pivotal part of research and teaching at Queen's for more than six decades and hosts researchers from both Canada and international institutions. Research at QUBS has resulted in more than 800 publications in peer-reviewed journals and more than 200 graduate and undergraduate theses.
The findings were recently published in the Proceedings of The Royal Society.