Irby Lovette

Director, Fuller Evolutionary Biology Program and Director, Center for Biodiversity Studies and Higher Education

I study the incredible diversity of the world’s birds and work with many different kinds of students through my roles as the Fuller Professor of Ornithology, and the Director of the Fuller Evolutionary Biology Program, the Cornell Museum of Vertebrates, and the Cornell Lab’s Academic Affairs.

I have a hard time deciding what I find most exciting about my profession: making new discoveries about the ways birds have evolved such a wonderful richness of appearances, lifestyles and behaviors; or helping to create opportunities for our inspiring cadres of undergraduates, graduate students, and postdocs, many of whom came to Cornell specifically to study ornithology. Fortunately, in my world these two activities often occur together, since many of our most innovative scientific advances are made by those same student and postdoc researchers! Currently in my area of science I’m particularly impressed by our newfound ability to dissect the genetic basis of bird traits and evolutionary history using cutting-edge comparisons of birds’ entire genomes—I feel like these new big-data tools are giving us a truly novel window on how biodiversity arises, as if we just fired up the equivalent of the “Hubble Telescope” for evolutionary biology.

Recent Publications

García, N. C., L. Campagna, A. C. Rush, R. C. K. Bowie, and I. J. Lovette (2023). Comparative genomics of two Empidonax flycatchers reveal candidate genes for bird song production. Evolution 77:1818–1828.
Walsh, J., S. M. Billerman, B. G. Butcher, V. G. Rohwer, D. P. L. Toews, V. Vila-Coury, and I. J. Lovette (2023). A complex genomic architecture underlies reproductive isolation in a North American oriole hybrid zone. Communications Biology 6:154.
Mikles, C. S., P. Arcese, I. J. Lovette, S. M. Aguillon, Y. L. Chan, P. M. Benham, K. Carbeck, and J. Walsh (2023). Evolutionary divergence and adaptive capacity in morphologically distinct song sparrow subspecies. Conservation Genetics 24:921–932.
Wood, A. W., Z. A. Szpiech, I. J. Lovette, B. T. Smith, and D. P. L. Toews (2023). Genomes of the extinct Bachman's warbler show high divergence and no evidence of admixture with other extant Vermivora warblers. Current Biology 33:2823-2829.e4.
Rojas Ripari, J. M., L. Campagna, B. Mahler, I. Lovette, J. C. Reboreda, and M. C. De Mársico (2022). Family ties in a neotropical cooperative breeder: within‐group relatedness and fine‐scale genetic structure in the greyish Baywing ( Agelaioides badius ). Ibis:ibi.13108.
Arrieta, R. S., L. Campagna, B. Mahler, I. Lovette, and P. E. Llambías (2022). Local male breeding density affects extra‐pair paternity in a south temperate population of grass wrens Cistothorus platensis. Journal of Avian Biology.
de Freitas, E. L., L. Campagna, B. Butcher, I. Lovette, and R. Caparroz (2022). Ecological traits drive genetic structuring in two open‐habitat birds from the morphologically cryptic genus Elaenia (Aves: Tyrannidae). Journal of Avian Biology:jav.02931.
Estalles, C., S. P. Turbek, M. José Rodríguez-Cajarville, L. F. Silveira, K. Wakamatsu, S. Ito, I. J. Lovette, P. L. Tubaro, D. A. Lijtmaer, and L. Campagna (2022). Concerted variation in melanogenesis genes underlies emergent patterning of plumage in capuchino seedeaters. Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences 289:20212277.
Chesser, R. T., S. M. Billerman, K. J. Burns, C. Cicero, J. L. Dunn, B. E. Hernández-Baños, A. W. Kratter, I. J. Lovette, N. A. Mason, P. C. Rasmussen, J. V. Remsen, et al. (2021). Sixty-second Supplement to the American Ornithological Society's Check-list of North American Birds. Ornithology 138:ukab037.
Arrieta, R. S., L. Campagna, B. Mahler, I. Lovette, and P. E. Llambías (2021). Double-digest RAD sequencing reveals low rates of conspecific brood parasitism and no cases of quasi-parasitism in a Neotropical passerine. The Wilson Journal of Ornithology 132.
Irby Lovette
Center Biodiversity Studies & Higher Education

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Golden-cheeked Warbler by Bryan Calk/Macaulay Library