APA Cardilini, KL Buchanan, CDH Sherman, P Cassey, MRE Symonds (2016) Tests of ecogeographical relationships in a non-native species: what rules avian morphology? Oecologia 181: 783-793.
What’s the paper about?
We demonstrate that within the (evolutionarily-speaking) short period of time since starlings have been introduced and spread throughout Australia, they have adapted in demonstrable ways to environmental clines within the country. We found evidence that both Bergmann’s rule and Allen’s rule apply (smaller body sizes, larger bill size in warmer climates), indicating that these adaptive changes can arise in species rapidly.
What’s the story behind it?
Adam Cardilini was a PhD student of my Deakin colleague Kate Buchanan, whose PhD research was focussed on evolution in invasise starlings in Australia. When it became obvious that one aspect of his work was going to enable him to look at geographic clines in morphology, the overlap with my interests in the topic meant that he sought me out for advice, which kind of morphed (pun intended) into more involvement in the analysis, and ultimately the writing of the paper. One of the nice experiences where what starts out as a couple of ‘helpful advice’ conversations turns into a really nice collaboration. Also, I’m indebted to Kate, who could easily, as Adam’s principal supervisor, have demanded senior author position on the paper but generously demurred. I will remember to pay that forward at some stage!