Garth Spellman, PhD

As the Curator of Ornithology, Dr. Garth Spellman's research focuses on how recent and ancient environmental changes have affected bird species. Bird species are products of their environment and therefore are constantly evolving in response to environmental change. The response of a species to environmental change leaves lasting footprints in its DNA. Dr. Spellman uses genetic tools to examine “bird DNA footprints” and determine just how a species or multiple species that make up a modern community have responded to past environmental change.

  • POSITIONCurator of Ornithology
  • EXPERTISE Avian Evolutionary Genetics
  • PhD

    University of Nevada, Las Vegas

  • PHONE NUMBER303.370.6469
  • EMAIL[email protected]


  • 1

    J.D. Manthey, J. Klicka, and G.M. Spellman*. 2015. Chromosomal patterns of diversity and differentiation in creepers: a next-gen phylogeographic investigation of Certhia Americana. Heredity. doi:10.1038/hdy.2015.27

  • 2

    G.M. Spellman and J. Klicka.  2007. Phylogeography of the White-breasted Nuthatch (Sitta carolinensis): diversification in North American pine and oak woodlands.  Molecular Ecology 16(8), 1729-1740.  

  • 3

    G.M. Spellman, B. Riddle, and J. Klicka.  2007. Phylogeography of the Mountain Chickadee (Poecile gambeli): diversification, introgression, and expansion in response to Quaternary climate change.  Molecular Ecology, 16, 1055-1068.

  • 4

    G.M. Spellman and J. Klicka.  2006. Testing hypotheses of Pleistocene population history using coalescent simulations: phylogeography of the pygmy nuthatch (Sitta pygmaea).

  • 5

    Is the Brown Creeper more than one species? Featured blog by David Allen Sibley of Sibley Guides.


This project examines how past climate change related to the Pleistocene glacial cycles affected biological and genetic diversity in North American birds.

This project investigates how genes move across or are prevented from moving across contact zones (zones where two species of bird come together and interbreed). Studying how these zones are maintained or disintegrate over time can tell us a lot about the evolutionary processes that promote species formation.

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