Sampling at the Smithsonian NMNH

Check out some more photos from my sampling expedition at the amazing collection at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of Natural History. This is for genetic work I’m doing on spinner dolphins. The goal is to describe a hybrid zone that occurs in spinners across the eastern portion of tropical pacific ocean.

Hybrid zones are interesting for a number of reasons, but mainly bc. we can see the forces of natural selection in action. It works best if we can combine genetics with detailed measurements of the animals and other data (i.e., environmental) to describe the zone. This allows us to really pick apart what might be driving the natural selection and creating the zone.

Hybrid zones are fairly rare in nature. There are only a couple in cetaceans, this being one of them. It should be really cool to see what comes out of this work!

The process goes something like this: Pull teeth -> grind teeth -> extract DNA -> read DNA at tiny fragments -> combine with skull measurements and environmental data -> write amazing paper -> get dissertation -> get job.   🙂

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