Jen Walsh

Research Associate


Saltmarsh Ecology • Genomics • Bioinformatics • Evolution

As a postdoctoral researcher in the Fuller Evolutionary Biology Lab, I use genetic tools to study saltmarsh adaptations (namely salt tolerance) in songbirds. Tidal saltmarshes pose extreme adaptive challenges to avian populations, making them interesting systems from an evolutionary perspective. In addition, many of the bird populations restricted to tidal marshes are heavily fragmented and in rapid decline, making them of interest from a conservation perspective as well.

My goal as a researcher at the Cornell Lab is to use new genomic methods to identify local diversity and adaptive potential in these special saltmarsh populations and to aid in informing management efforts by defining units for conservation.


Ph.D., University of New Hampshire

Beyond the Lab

When I am not working at the Lab, I love to garden and go on long hikes with my dogs.

Recent Publications

Maxwell, L. M., J. D. Clark, J. Walsh, M. Conway, B. J. Olsen, and A. I. Kovach (2024). Ecological characteristics explain neutral genetic variation of three coastal sparrow species. Molecular Ecology 33:e17316.
Benham, P. M., J. Walsh, and R. C. K. Bowie (2024). Spatial variation in population genomic responses to over a century of anthropogenic change within a tidal marsh songbird. Global Change Biology 30:e17126.
Carbeck, K., P. Arcese, I. Lovette, C. Pruett, K. Winker, and J. Walsh (2023). Candidate genes under selection in song sparrows co-vary with climate and body mass in support of Bergmann's Rule. Nature Communications 14:6974.
Walsh, J., L. E. Fenderson, C. S. Elphick, J. B. Cohen, C. R. Field, L. K. Garey, T. P. Hodgman, A. R. Kocek, R. Longenecker, K. M. O'Brien, B. J. Olsen, et al. (2023). Surrounding landscape, habitat and hybridization dynamics drive population structure and genetic diversity in the Saltmarsh Sparrow. Ornithological Applications 125:duad025.
Maxwell, L. M., J. Walsh, B. J. Olsen, and A. I. Kovach (2023). Climate change outpaces adaptive potential via hybridization in nesting female Saltmarsh and Nelson's Sparrows. Ornithology 140:ukad037.
Walsh, J., R. Bowman, J. D. Brawn, K. M. Covino, K. M. Dugger, R. C. Fleischer, J. L. Houtz, S. M. Mahoney, M. Pruett-Jones, C. E. Tarwater, and J. Fair (2023). Professional ethics survey identifies strengths and areas for improvement in the American Ornithological Society. Ornithology 140:ukac053.
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.
Ruskin, K. J., G. Herring, C. A. Eagles-Smith, A. B. Eiklor, C. S. Elphick, M. A. Etterson, C. R. Field, R. A. Longenecker, A. I. Kovach, W. Gregory Shriver, J. Walsh, and B. J. Olsen (2022). Mercury exposure of tidal marsh songbirds in the northeastern United States and its association with nest survival. Ecotoxicology 31:208–220.
Walsh, J., L. Campagna, W. E. Feeney, J. King, and M. S. Webster (2021). Patterns of genetic divergence and demographic history shed light on island-mainland population dynamics and melanic plumage evolution in the white-winged Fairywren. Evolution.
Maxwell, L. M., J. Walsh, B. J. Olsen, and A. I. Kovach (2021). Patterns of introgression vary within an avian hybrid zone. BMC Ecology and Evolution 21:14.
Walsh, J., A. I. Kovach, P. M. Benham, G. V. Clucas, V. L. Winder, and I. J. Lovette (2021). Genomic data reveal the biogeographical and demographic history of Ammospiza sparrows in northeast tidal marshes. Journal of Biogeography 48:2360–2374.
Mikles, C. S., S. M. Aguillon, Y. L. Chan, P. Arcese, P. M. Benham, I. J. Lovette, and J. Walsh (2020). Genomic differentiation and local adaptation on a microgeographic scale in a resident songbird. Molecular Ecology:mec.15647.
Walsh, J., S. M. Billerman, V. G. Rohwer, B. G. Butcher, and I. J. Lovette (2020). Genomic and plumage variation across the controversial Baltimore and Bullock's Oriole hybrid zone. The Auk:ukaa044.
Aguillon, S. M., J. Walsh, and I. J. Lovette (2020). Extensive hybridization reveals multiple coloration genes underlying a complex plumage phenotype.
Pecl, G. T., J. Stuart-Smith, P. Walsh, D. J. Bray, M. Kusetic, M. Burgess, S. D. Frusher, D. C. Gledhill, O. George, G. Jackson, J. Keane, et al. (2019). Redmap Australia: Challenges and successes with a large-scale citizen science-based approach to ecological monitoring and community engagement on climate change. Frontiers in Marine Science 6:349.
Walsh, J., G. V. Clucas, M. D. MacManes, W. K. Thomas, and A. I. Kovach (2019). Divergent selection and drift shape the genomes of two avian sister species spanning a saline–freshwater ecotone. Ecology and Evolution 9:13477–13494.
Walsh, J., P. M. Benham, P. E. Deane-Coe, P. Arcese, B. G. Butcher, Y. L. Chan, Z. A. Cheviron, C. S. Elphick, A. I. Kovach, B. J. Olsen, W. G. Shriver, et al. (2019). Genomics of rapid ecological divergence and parallel adaptation in four tidal marsh sparrows. Evolution Letters 3:324–338.
Walsh, J., A. I. Kovach, B. J. Olsen, W. G. Shriver, and I. J. Lovette (2019). [In press] Bidirectional adaptive introgression between two ecologically divergent sparrow species. Evolution.
Benvenuti, B., J. Walsh, K. M. O'Brien, and A. I. Kovach (2018). Plasticity in nesting adaptations of a tidal marsh endemic bird. Ecology and Evolution 8:10780–10793.
Walsh, J., A. I. Kovach, B. J. Olsen, W. G. Shriver, and I. J. Lovette (2018). Bidirectional adaptive introgression between two ecologically divergent sparrow species: Hybridization in Saltmarsh and Nelson's sparrows. Evolution 72:2076–2089.
Benvenuti, B., J. Walsh, K. M. O'Brien, M. J. Ducey, and A. I. Kovach (2018). Annual variation in the offspring sex ratio of Saltmarsh Sparrows supports Fisher's hypothesis. The Auk 135:342–358.
Toews, D. P. L., J. Walsh, and L. Campagna (2018). Population Genomics of Birds: Evolutionary History and Conservation. In Population Genomics: Wildlife. Springer International Publishing, Cham.
Walsh, J., W. G. Shriver, M. D. Correll, B. J. Olsen, C. S. Elphick, T. P. Hodgman, R. J. Rowe, K. M. O'Brien, and A. I. Kovach (2017). Temporal shifts in the Saltmarsh–Nelson's Sparrow hybrid zone revealed by replicated demographic and genetic surveys. Conservation Genetics 18:453–466.
Walsh, J., I. J. Lovette, V. Winder, C. S. Elphick, B. J. Olsen, G. Shriver, and A. I. Kovach (2017). Subspecies delineation amid phenotypic, geographic, and genetic discordance in a songbird. Molecular Ecology 26:1242–1255.
Walsh, J., W. G. Shriver, B. J. Olsen, and A. I. Kovach (2016). Differential introgression and the maintenance of species boundaries in an advanced generation avian hybrid zone. BMC Evolutionary Biology 16.
Walsh, J., B. J. Olsen, K. J. Ruskin, W. Gregory Shriver, K. M. O'Brien, and A. I. Kovach (2016). Extrinsic and intrinsic factors influence fitness in an avian hybrid zone. Biological Journal of the Linnean Society.
Walsh, J., R. J. Rowe, B. J. Olsen, W. G. Shriver, and A. I. Kovach (2016). Genotype-environment associations support a mosaic hybrid zone between two tidal marsh birds. Ecology and Evolution 6:279–294.
van der Hoek, Y., A. M. Wilson, R. Renfrew, J. Walsh, P. G. Rodewald, J. Baldy, and L. L. Manne (2015). Regional variability in extinction thresholds for forest birds in the north-eastern United States: an examination of potential drivers using long-term breeding bird atlas datasets. Diversity and Distributions 21:686–697.
Jen Walsh-Emond
Center Biodiversity Studies & Higher Education

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Golden-cheeked Warbler by Bryan Calk/Macaulay Library