Award Date

1-1-2005

Degree Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Department

Biological Science

First Committee Member

Brett Riddle

Second Committee Member

John Klicka

Number of Pages

133

Abstract

Pine and oak (pine-oak hereafter) woodlands are some of the most widespread floral communities in North America. They are distributed across the continent at mid-latitudes, but do exist as far north as British Columbia and as far south as Nicaragua. They are also disjunct habitats with distinct regional species assemblages (Eastern North America, Rocky Mountain/Great Basin, Californian, Sierra Nevada/Cascades, and Mexican/Central American [Madrean] assemblages). The division of pine-oak forests into specific regional communities should be reflected by patterns of faunal diversity, if the fauna that inhabit these forests evolved in situ over time in pine-oak forests. In fact this is the case for many pine-oak adapted fauna; however, there are a number of bird species that exhibit widespread distributions across these disjunct pine-oak habitats; In this dissertation, I propose three hypotheses to explain the evolution of the widespread distributions of three common pine-oak birds, the Pygmy Nuthatch (Sitta pygmaea), Mountain Chickadee (Poecile gambeli), and White-breasted Nuthatch (Sitta carolinensis ), and evaluate these three hypotheses through a comparative phylogeographic study of mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) variation in each of these species. Overall, the genetic structure of pine-oak birds has been shaped by two biogeographic events: the in situ evolution of populations in the isolated regional forests and post-glacial population expansion. However, these studies only represent a tiny portion of the diversity of birds that occupy pine and oak forests in North America. Future study of additional co-distributed species will help determine if the genetic patterns observed in this study are broadly applicable across all pine-oak distributed birds.

Keywords

Birds; Comparative; Forests; Oak; Phylogeography; Pine; Pine-oak; Poecile Gambeli; Sitta Carolinensis; Sitta Pygmaea

Controlled Subject

Zoology; Ecology

File Format

pdf

File Size

3737.6 KB

Degree Grantor

University of Nevada, Las Vegas

Language

English

Permissions

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Identifier

https://doi.org/10.25669/44rg-s8do


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