• Title Professor of Biology; Associate Dean of the Faculty, Natural Sciences
  • Education PhD, University of Minnesota, 1990
  • Web Address http://people.bu.edu/msoren/
  • Phone 617-353-6983
  • Area of Interest Avian behavioral ecology, speciation, population genomics, and molecular systematics
  • CV

Current Research

My research interests are primarily in the behavioral and evolutionary ecology and population genetics/genomics of brood parasitic birds (species that reproduce only by parasitizing the parental care behavior of other species). Recent work has focused on the brood parasitic indigobirds (Vidua spp.) of Africa, in which learning and mimicry of host songs facilitate an evolutionary process of speciation by host shift, and on the speciation genomics of a group of 12 Lonchura munia species in Papua New Guinea and northern Australia that represent an extraordinary example of rapid evolutionary diversification. Together with colleagues, I have also recently examined the genetic basis of host specific adaptation in several different groups of brood parasitic birds, and worked on the evolutionary ecology of bat populations, including those affected by white-nose syndrome, an emerging fungal pathogen that has devastated bat populations in eastern North America. 

Selected Publications

  • Stryjewski KF, Sorenson MD (2017) Mosaic genome evolution in an extraordinary avian radiation. Nature Ecology and Evolution 1: 1912-1922.
  • Fossøy F, Sorenson MD, Liang W, Ekrem T, Moksnes A, Møller AP, Rutila J, Røskaft E, Takasu F, Yang C, Stokke BG (2016) Ancient origin and maternal inheritance of blue cuckoo eggs. Nature Communications 7: 10272.
  • DaCosta JM, Sorenson MD (2016) ddRAD-seq phylogenetics based on nucleotide, indel, and presence-absence polymorphisms: analyses of two avian genera with contrasting histories. Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution 94: 122-135.
  • Wilder AP, Kunz TH, Sorenson MD (2015) Population genetic structure of a common host predicts the spread of white-nose syndrome, an emerging infectious disease in bats. Molecular Ecology 24: 5495-5506.
  • DaCosta JM, Sorenson MD (2014) Amplification biases and consistent recovery of loci in a double-digest RAD-seq protocol. PLoS One 9: e106713.
  • Spottiswoode CN, Stryjewski KF, Quader S, Colebrook-Robjent JFR, Sorenson MD (2011) Ancient host specificity within a single species of brood parasitic bird. Proceedings of the National Academy of Science USA 43: 17738-17742.
  • Balakrishnan CN, Sefc KM, Sorenson MD (2009) Incomplete reproductive isolation following host shift in brood parasitic indigobirds. Proceedings of the Royal Society of London, Series B 276: 219-228.
  • Sorenson MD, Sefc KM, Payne RB (2003) Speciation by host switch in brood parasitic indigobirds. Nature 424: 928-931.

Courses Taught:

  • BI 107 Introductory Biology I
  • BI 508 Behavioral Ecology
  • BI 515 Population Genetics
  • BI 549 Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution
  • BI 581/582 Seminar in Biology

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