SNIC 2017/7-10


SNIC Small Compute

Principal Investigator:

Per Ericson


Naturhistoriska riksmuseet

Start Date:


End Date:


Primary Classification:

10612: Biological Systematics




Bowerbirds (Ptilonorhynchidae) are exceptional among birds in their use of tools, preference for collecting colored items, and skill as architects. The family includes ca. twenty species distributed in New Guinea and Australia. Some species are polygynous with males renowned for building huge arenas or courts (bowers) as focal points to which they attract females for courting and, if successful, mating. Other species are monogamous species and have biparental care. In this project we will test hypotheses about how the polygynous mating system and strong sexual selection observed in many species may have affected their genomes. The bowerbirds also vary in their size, degree of sexual dimorphism, altitudinal distribution, food choice and vocal mimicry. This makes bowerbirds an ideal study-group for the emerging field of ‘phylophenomics’, i.e. the systematic study of phenotypes on a genome-wide scale. In this project we use comparative genomics to study the genetic foundations for many of these traits. The many genomes produced in this project (ca. 20 high quality de-novo genomes and 25 re-sequenced genomes) will significantly add to the well-annotated 48+ bird genomes that have already been published (Avian Phylogenomics Project, Zhang et al. 2014). So far only few passerines have been studied, despite they constitute 60% of all bird species, and none is from a basal oscine passerine. The bowerbird genomes will thus form a baseline in many future genomic studies.