Science Daily Reports on Olsen’s Sparrow Research

Science Daily published the article, “Species lines blur between two sparrows in New England’s tidal marshes,” on a study conducted by a group of researchers including Brian Olsen, assistant professor of biology and ecology. Olsen worked with researchers at the University of New Hampshire, the University of Delaware and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to capture and examine birds on the coast of Maine, New Hampshire and Massachusetts, according to the article. The line between bird species is sometimes blurry, with related species interbreeding where their ranges overlap to create populations of hybrid offspring, the article states. In their study, the researchers found that in the saltmarsh sparrow/Nelson’s sparrow hybrid zone on the New England coast, identifying hybrid birds is challenging. DNA revealed that half the birds identified as “pure” in the field were of mixed ancestry.