Tamaki Yuri Biography



Tamaki Yuri is the Collection Manager of Ornithology and Lab Manager of Genetic Resources Core Facility at the Sam Noble Museum. Tamaki’s keen interest in birds began to develop when she was an undergraduate student at the University of Washington and started volunteering at the Bird Collection of the Burke Museum after taking an Ornithology class. After she received an B.S., she joined an expedition to the Russian Far East, which was led by the curator of the Burke Museum. The experience further motivated her to pursue an advanced degree in Ornithology utilizing traditional and genetic collections in the natural history museums.

While Tamaki attended the graduate school at the University of Michigan, she developed interest in systematics, population genetics, and trait evolution, and her research focused on the evolutionary relationships of song birds, particularly of cardinals and buntings, and evolution of their feather replacement traits.

After she received a Ph.D., she continued her research as a postdoctoral fellow at the Smithsonian Institute and University of Florida. She studied the genetic diversity of White-collared and Golden-collared manakins in a hybrid zone in Panama. She and her collaborators concluded that these hybridizing species may exchange neutral and positively selected genes relatively freely across hybrid zones despite of multiple diagnostic markers indicating clear boundaries between the species.

She was also heavily involved in the large-scale collaborative research project “Early Bird” funded by the NSF Assembling the Tree of Life (AToL) program. The project explored the evolutionary relationships of all major groups of birds and supported a number of other projects focused on the theory and practice of phylogenetics in birds and other organisms, resulting in 24 publications in peer-reviewed journals.

At the Sam Noble Museum, Tamaki has been studying the hybridization between White-faced and Glossy ibises in Oklahoma. These wetland birds have experienced rapid range expansions in the last 20 years, resulting in range overlaps in the Great Plains and coastal Gulf regions. Her research will document the occurrences of hybrids and extent of genetic exchange between the ibises. She is also investigating whether climate-driven hybridization could pose a significant conservation concern.