The Influence of Genes on the Migratory Timing of Great Reed Warblers

Wednesday, July 10, 2024 1 p.m. to 3 p.m.

Many organisms migrate; however, there is a lack of knowledge on the mechanisms that drive migration timing, including which genes play a role. Great reed warblers (Acrocephalus arundinaceus), a migratory bird that breeds in Eurasia and overwinters in sub-Saharan Africa, are an excellent model to study the genetics of migration. Each season, some individuals migrate early, while others migrate later in the season. In other words, they exhibit differences in their migratory chronotypes. Past research has found that there are three candidate genes (TOP1, PEAK1, and CPNE4) that influence the migratory chronotypes of another avian species, the American kestrel (Falco sparverius); yet no research has been conducted on the influence of these and other candidate genes on the migratory chronotype of great reed warblers. In this study, using a cost-effective technique called pool-seq, I conducted whole genome sequencing on both early and late spring and autumn migrators to identify genetic variation between the two chronotypes and I identified candidate genes that may influence migration behavior. Lastly, I determined if there is a difference in genetic control between the spring and autumn migration in great reed warblers. These results provide insight into how genes influence migratory timing behavior in great reed warblers and therefore give us a better understanding of avian navigation and ecology.

Emily Fackler

Advisor: Dr. Robert Fitak

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Dr. Robert Fitak


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