David Toews

How do new species arise, what makes them variable, and how to go about conserving them for the future? We’ve come a long way in our understanding of the evolution of life in the 150 years since the publication of the Origin of the Species, especially given the wave of new molecular tools and theory, which has given the field of evolutionary biology new life and rigour. My research in Dr. Darren Irwin’s lab involves using natural experiments, such as the recolonization of the forests of North America by songbirds following the retreat of the glaciers, to better understand the evolution of local adaptation and reproductive isolation. Using areas of secondary contact where divergent populations now meet we can 1) observe a wide spectrum reproductive barriers in taxa that are strongly reproductively isolated (i.e. the winter wren and pacific wren) to taxa that hybridize extensively (i.e. Townsend’s and black-throated green warblers) and 2) test for evidence of introgression in genes or traits that may have been favoured by selection. I am using genetic, physiological, behavioural, and ecological methods to understand how these critters have adapted to their different lives apart and the evolutionary dynamics and consequences now that they are back together.

Alberta Conservation Association Grants in Biodiversity

For Research

Hesse Research Award in Ornithology

For Research

National Geographic Young Explorers Grant

For Research
Migration, mitochondria and the yellow-rumped warbler
Evolution 68: 241-255
Toews D. P. L., Mandic, M., Richards, J. G. and D. E. Irwin
Concordance of genetic and phenotypic characters across a sapsucker hybrid zone
Journal of Avian Biology 43: 119–130
Seneviratne S., Toews D. P. L., Brelsford A. and D. E. Irwin
Pacific Wren (Troglodytes pacificus)
The Birds of North America (A. Poole, Ed.).
Toews, D. P. L. and D. E. Irwin
The Biogeography of Mitochondrial and Nuclear Discordance in Animals
Molecular Ecology 16: 3907-30
Toews, D. P. L. and A. Brelsford
A cryptic contact zone between divergent mtDNA lineages in southwestern North America supports a case of past introgressive hybridization in the Yellow-rumped wabrbler (Dendroica coronata)
Biological Journal of the Linnaean Society 103: 696-706
Mila, B., Toews, D. P. L., Smith, T. B. and R. K. Wayne
Can song discriminate between MacGillivray’s and Mourning warblers in a narrow hybrid zone?
The Condor 113: 655-663
Kenyon, H. L., Toews, D. P. L. and D. E. Irwin
Hybridization between Townsend’s and Black-throated green warblers in an avian suture zone
Journal of Avian Biology 42: 434-446
Toews, D. P. L., Brelsford, A. and D. E. Irwin
Extensive hybridization in a contact zone between MacGillivray's and mourning warblers (Oporornis tolmiei and O. philadelphia) detected using molecular and morphometric analyses
Journal of Avian Biology 40: 539-552
Irwin, D.E., A. Brelsford, D.P.L. Toews, C. MacDonald, and M. Phinney
Cryptic speciation in a Holarctic passerine revealed by genetic and bioacoustic analyses
Molecular Ecology 2691-2705
Toews, D.P.L., and D.E. Irwin