Evolution of the avian brain

Since 2002, I have been developing a comparative brain collection for the primary purpose of understanding how the avian brain evolved and the relationship between neuroanatomical and behavioural diversity in birds. To date, this collection has hundreds of specimens of nearly 200 species, including owls, hummingbirds, waterfowl, songbirds, vulture and many other species. This is the largest comparative brain collection in Canada and, as far as we know, the largest bird brain collection in the world. Almost all of them are serially sectioned and stained for use with our high resolution slide scanner and stereology system.

Some of the projects that we are currently working on include:

1) Brain morphology in fossil and other extinct birds (with Drs. Helen James and Storrs Olson, Smithsonian Institution)

2) Comparative morphology of the avian cerebellum

3) Neuron number and brain region sizes variation within and among visual and auditory nuclei

4) Comparative neuroanatomy of bowerbirds (with Drs. Gerald Borgia and Catherine Carr, University of Maryland)

5) Brain morphology of the night parrot (with Dr. Vera Weisbecker, University of Queensland)

6) Allometry of the tectum across vertebrates (Drs. Kara Yopak and Shaun Collin, University of Western Australia)