Welcome to the McCormack Lab!

Our research seeks to unite natural history collections with genomic techniques to explore the evolutionary origins of species. We explore evolutionary questions at the levels of populations (speciation-in-action and hybrid zones), species (phylogeography), and higher taxa (deep-level systematics).

Our work takes place in the Moore Laboratory of Zoology (MLZ), a world-reknowned bird collection at Occidental College, home to over 65,000 specimens, mostly bird study skins from Mexico. The MLZ holds the largest Mexican bird collection in the world. Part of our research is promoting the use of this collection for basic research on the evolution of conservation of Mexican biota.

The MLZ collection is searchable on Arctos and Ornis.

Are you an Oxy undergraduate interested in research?

We have lots of opportunities. Find out if the Moore Lab is a good fit for your interests here

Online Resources

Collaborators and I host a website devoted to open access of our lab protocols and bioinformatic pipelines for processing UCE data (see Research).

For updates on UCEs on Twitter:

To keep up on Moore Lab activities on Facebook, click the Like button below.


12/11/2014 - Two papers published in Science as part of an Avian Genomes special issue!

3/29/2013 - Our paper on using UCEs to uncover the evolutionary affinities of turtles was on the Top Ten Downloaded and Cited List at Biology Letters for 2012. This means it's now open access!

2/1/2013 - Our paper using sequence capture to build a deep-level phylogeny of birds based on over 1,500 loci was just published in PLoS One and now has over 10,000 views. Link to open access article. Great blog coverage here and here.

12/1/2012 - NSF grant on using new genomic tools to uncover the phylogeography of Mexican highland birds, reptiles, and amphibians funded!

7/13/2012 - Our Genome Research paper introducing ultraconserved elements as phylogenomic markers useful for uncovering mammal phylogeny was given a Must Read rating by Faculty of 1000.

5/16/2012 - Our paper on using sequence capture of ultraconserved elements to solve the mystery of turtle evolution was covered in the popular press in places like The Reptile Channel and Elements and Science Friday Blog. It was also mentioned in a profile in Nature on microRNAs, because our study contradicted findings of a recent microRNA study.

7/11/2011 - Maria Clara Arteaga and my Evolution paper was recommended by Faculty of 1000. Ian Wang and Jonathan Losos wrote: "This study employs a creative methodological approach that combines spatial environmental data with genetic estimates of gene flow and niche modelling to address an interesting question of whether niche similarity facilitates gene flow between lineages."

Contact John McCormack

mccormack (at) oxy (dot) edu