Jeffrey L. Peters, Ph.D.

Biological Sciences
Professor & Associate Chair of Biological Sciences
Biological Sciences Bldg 204A, 3640 Colonel Glenn Hwy., Dayton, OH 45435-0001

Education History

  • Postdoctoral Fellow, 2006-2008, University of Alaska Fairbanks, Fairbanks, AK.
  • Ph.D. Biological Sciences. 2006. University of Maryland Baltimore County, Baltimore, MD.
  • M.S. Applied Ecology and Conservation Biology. 2002. Frostburg State University, Frostburg, MD.
  • B.S.Biology. 1996. Indiana University of Pennsylvania, Indiana, PA.

Research Statement

My research program is interdisciplinary and includes aspects of molecular and evolutionary ecology, population/community genetics, molecular evolution, and behavioral ecology. This research focuses on two primary goals: (1) to study the evolutionary histories of populations and species using DNA sequences; and (2) to study the influence of natural selection on non-coding DNA.

I use DNA sequences from multiple loci to study the history of community assembly in the Northern hemisphere. Fossil records indicate a bias in the direction of intercontinental colonization for Holarctic mammals (from Eurasia into North America), and recent genetic evidence also supports this bias for a variety of other taxonomic groups. Currently, I am studying the population genetics of five species and one species pair of ducks, each distributed across North America and Eurasia, to test for this colonization bias. Using methods based on coalescent theory, I am testing models of evolution that include population size changes, gene flow, and divergence times. These methods allow explicit tests for bottlenecks that might have been associated with a colonization event.

I also use a combination of empirical and simulated data to address two fundamental questions in population genetics: (1) how often does non-coding DNA deviate from expectations under selective neutrality; and (2) how does violating the assumption of neutrality influence inferences of evolutionary histories? Inferring evolutionary histories using DNA polymorphisms is now common practice, but many methods in population genetics (especially those based on coalescent theory) assume that the loci examined are selectively neutral. Population-level studies often focus on non-coding DNA, such as nuclear introns that are presumed to be neutral. However, selection acting directly on polymorphisms within exons can also influence closely linked introns through ‘genetic hitch-hiking’ or ‘genetic draft’. Non-neutral evolution can potentially result in serious biases in estimates of population-level parameters but has received insufficient attention in population-level studies. I am using the comparative, multilocus dataset from the six species of Holarctic ducks described above to address questions of selective neutrality.


Representative Publications

*Wright State student co-authors

Seibert, S.R.*, L. Joseph, J. Bowers*, P. Lavretsky, A. Drew, I. Mason, D.A. Roshier, & J.L. Peters. 2023. Population genomics and phylogeography of four Australasian waterfowl. Emu – Austral Ornithology 123:105-117.

Rohwer, S., C.S. Wood, J.L. Peters, E.T. Miller, D. Cagley, B.G. Butcher, K.L. Epperly, & L. Campagña. 2022. Interspecific forced copulations generate most hybrids in broadly sympatric ducks. PLoS One 17: e0274059.

Peñalba, J.V., J.L. Peters, & L. Joseph. 2022. Sustained plumage divergence despite weak genomic differentiation and broad sympatry in sister species of Australian woodswallows (Artamus spp.). Molecular Ecology 31:5060-5073.

Kulikova, I., S.V. Shedko, Y.N. Zhuravlev, P. Lavretsky, & J.L. Peters. 2022. Z‐chromosome outliers as diagnostic markers to discriminate Mallard and Chinese Spot‐billed Duck (Anatidae). Zoologica Scripta 51:401-414

Brown, J.I., P. Lavretsky, L. Joseph, D. Roshier, P.-J. Guay, & J.L. Peters. 2021. A multi-locus approach to discern conservation units and adaptive potential of Pacific black ducks across Australia and surrounding islands. Emu – Austral Ornithology 121:124-135

Graham, A.M., J.L. Peters, R.E. Wilson, V. Munoz-Fuentes, A.J. Green, D.A. Dorfsman, T.H. Valqui, K. Winker, K.G. McCracken. 2021. Adaptive introgression of the beta-globin cluster in two Andean waterfowl. Heredity 127:107-123.

Janjua, S.*, J.L. Peters, B. Weckworth, F.I. Abbas, V. Bahn, O. Johansson, & T.P. Rooney. 2020. Improving our conservation genetic toolkit: ddRAD-seq for SNPs in snow leopards. Conservation Genetics Resources 12:257-261

Westwood, M.L.*, J.L. Peters, & T.P. Rooney. 2020. Prevalence and coinfection of three tick-borne pathogens in questing qdult Blacklegged Ticks Ixodes scapularis (Vilas County, Wisconsin). Vector-Borne and Zoonotic Diseases 20:633-635.

Wells, C.P., P. Lavretsky, M.D. Sorenson, J.L. Peters, J.M. DaCosta, S. Turnbull, K.J. Uyehara, C.P. Malachowski, B.D. Dugger, J.M. Eadie, & A. Engilis, Jr. 2019. Persistence of an endangered native duck, feral mallards, and multiple hybrid swarms across the main Hawaiian Islands. Molecular Ecology 28:5199-5386.

Joseph, L., A. Drew, I. Mason, & J.L. Peters. 2019. Introgression between non-sister species of honeyeaters (Aves: Meliphagidae) several million years after speciation. Biological Journal of the Linnean Society 128:583–591.

Brown, J.I., P. Lavretsky, G.S. Cumming, & J.L. Peters. 2019. Strong population structure and limited gene flow between Yellow-billed Ducks and Mallards. Condor 121:duz042.

Alza, L., P. Lavretsky, J.L. Peters, G. Cerón, M. Smith, C. Kopuchian, A. Astie, & K.G. Mccracken. 2019. Old divergence and restricted gene flow between torrent duck (Merganetta armata) subspecies in the central and southern Andes. Ecology and Evolution 9:9961-9976.

Lavretsky, P., J. DaCosta, M.D. Sorenson, K.G. McCracken, & J.L. Peters. 2019. ddRAD- seq data reveal significant genome-wide population structure and divergent genomic regions that distinguish the mallard and close relatives in North America. Molecular Ecology 28: 2594-2609.

Ottenburghs, J., P. Lavretsky, J.L. Peters, T. Kawakami, & R.H.S. Kraus. 2019. Population Genomics and Phylogeography, In: Avian Genomics in Ecology and Evolution: From the Lab into the Wild (R.H.S. Kraus, Ed.). Springer Nature Switzerland AG, Chan, Switzerland. Pp. 237-266.

Jones, S.M., G.S. Cumming, & J.L. Peters. 2018. Host community heterogeneity and the expression of host specificity in avian haemosporidia in the Western Cape, South Africa. Parasitology 145:1876–1883.

Nelson, J.T.*, R.E. Wilson, K.G. McCracken, G.S. Cumming, L. Joseph, P.-J. Guay, & J.L. Peters. 2017. Divergence and gene flow in the globally distributed blue-winged ducks. Journal of Avian Biology 48:640–649.

Cipollini, K., P. Lavretsky, D. Cipollini, & J. L. Peters.  2017. Genetic population structure and conservation units across the range of endangered northeastern bulrush, Scirpus ancistrochaetus. International Journal of Plant Sciences 178: 67-78.

Peters, J.L., P. Lavretsky, J.M. DaCosta, R.R. Bielefeld, J.C. Feddersen, M.D. Sorenson. 2016. Population genomic data delineate conservation units in mottled ducks (Anas fulvigula). Biological Conservation 203: 272–281.

Lavretsky, P., J.L. Peters, Winker, K., Kulikova, I., Zhuravlev, Y.N., R.E. Wilson, C. Barger, K. Gurney, & K.G. McCracken. 2016. Becoming pure: identifying generational classes of admixed individuals within lesser and greater scaup populations. Molecular Ecology 25:661–674.

Hellard, E., G. Cumming, A. Caron, E. Coe*, & J.L. Peters. 2016. Testing epidemiological functional groups as predictors of avian haemosporidia patterns in southern Africa. Ecosphere 7: e01225.

Dhami, K.K.*, L. Joseph, D.A. Roshier, & J.L. Peters. 2016. Recent speciation and elevated Z-chromosome differentiation between sexually monochromatic and dichromatic species of Australian teals. Journal of Avian Biology 47:92-102.

Lavretsky P.*, J. M. DaCosta, B. E. Hernández-Baños, A. Engilis Jr., M. D. Sorenson, & J.L. Peters. 2015. Speciation genomics and a role for the Z chromosome in the early stages of divergence between mallards and Mexican ducks. Molecular Ecology 24:5364–5378.

Lavretsky, P.*, A. Engilis, Jr., J.M. Eadie & J.L. Peters. 2015. Genetic admixture supports an ancient hybrid origin of the endangered Hawaiian duck. Journal of Evolutionary Biology 28:1005-1015.

Lavretsky, P.*, B.E. Hernandez-Banos, & J.L. Peters. 2014. Rapid radiation and hybridization contribute to weak differentiation and hinder phylogenetic inferences in the New World mallard complex (Anas spp.). Auk 131:524-538.

Lavretsky, P.*, J.H. Miller, V. Bahn, & J.L. Peters. 2014. Exploring fall migratory patterns of American black ducks using eight decades of band-recovery data. Journal of Wildlife Management 78:997-1004.

Peters, J.L., K. Winker, K.C. Millam, P. Lavretsky*, I. Kulikova, R.E. Wilson, Y.N. Zhuravlev, & K.G. McCracken. 2014. Mito-nuclear discord in six congeneric lineages of Holarctic ducks (genus Anas). Molecular Ecology 23:2961-2974.

Okanga, S., G.S. Cumming, P.A.R. Hockey, L. Nupen, & J.L. Peters. 2014. Host specificity and co-speciation in avian haemosporidia in the Western Cape, South Africa. PLoS One 9:e86382.

Peters, J.L., S.A. Sonsthagen, P. Lavretsky*, M. Rezsutek, W.P. Johnson, & K.G. McCracken. 2014. Interspecific hybridization contributes to high genetic diversity and apparent effective population size in an endemic population of mottled ducks (Anas fulvigula maculosa). Conservation Genetics: In Press.

Lavretsky, P.*, A. Engilis, Jr., & J.L. Peters. 2014. Major histocompatibility I gene diversity in the critically endangered Laysan duck (Anas laysanensis). Pacific Conservation Biology: In Press.

Lavretsky, P.*, K.G. McCracken, & J.L. Peters. 2014. Phylogenetics of a recent radiation in the mallards and allies (Aves: Anas): Inferences from a genomic transect and the multispecies coalescent. Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution 70:402-411.

Winker, K., K.G. McCracken, D.D. Gibson, & J.L. Peters. 2013. Heteropatric speciation in a duck, Anas crecca. Molecular Ecology 22:5922-5935.

Okanga, S., G.S. Cumming, P.A.R. Hockey, & J.L. Peters. 2013. Landscape structure influences avian malaria ecology in the Western Cape, South Africa. Landscape Ecology 28:2019-2028.

McCracken, K.G., R. E. Wilson, J.L. Peters, K. Winker, & A.R. Martin. 2013. Late Pleistocene colonization of South Georgia by yellow-billed pintails pre-dates the Last Glacial Maximum. Journal of Biogeography 40:2348-2360.

Okanga, S., G.S. Cumming, P.A.R. Hockey, M. Grome*, & J.L. Peters. 2013. A comparison of techniques employed in detection avian malaria infection, South Africa. African Zoology 48:309-317.

Cortes-Rodriguez, M.N., F. Jacobsen, B.E. Hernandez-Baños, A.G. Navarro-Siguenza, J.L. Peters, & K.E. Omland. 2013. Coalescent analyses show isolation without migration in two closely related tropical orioles: the case of Icterus graduacauda and Icterus chrysater. Ecology and Evolution 3:4377-4387.

Cipollini, K., K. C. Millam, D. Burks, D. Cipollini, S. Girod, Z. VanGundy, & J.L. Peters. 2013. Genetic structure of the endangered Northeastern Bulrush (Scirpus ancistrochaetus) in Pennsylvania, USA, using information from RAPD and SNPs. Biochemical Genetics 51:686-697.

DhamiK.K.*, L. Joseph, D.A. Roshier, R. Heinsohn, & J.L. Peters. 2013. Multilocus phylogeography of Australian teals (Anas spp.): a case study of the relationship between vagility and genetic structure. Journal of Avian Biology 44:169-178.

Cumming, G.S., E. Shepard*, S. Okanga, A. Caron, M. Ndlovu, & J.L. Peters. 2013. Host associations, biogeography, and phylogenetics of avian malaria in southern African waterfowl. Parasitology 140:193-201.

Wilson, R.E., J.L. Peters, & K.G. McCracken. 2013. Genetic and phenotypic divergence between high- and low-altitude populations of two recently diverged cinnamon teal subspecies. Evolution 67:170-184.

Peters, J.L., K.G. McCracken, C.L. Pruett, S. Rohwer, S.V. Drovetski, Y.N. Zhuravlev, I. Kulikova, D.D. Gibson, & K. Winker. 2012. A parapatric propensity for breeding precludes the completion of speciation in common teal (Anas crecca, sensu lato). Molecular Ecology 21:4563-4577.

Peters, J.L.K.A. Bolender*, & J.M. Pearce. 2012. Behavioral vs. molecular sources of conflict between nuclear and mitochondrial DNA: The role of male-biased dispersal in a Holarctic sea duck. Molecular Ecology 21:3562-3575.

Lavretsky, P.*, T.M. Truong*, A.E. McGowin, G.H. Balazs, & J.L. Peters. 2012. New primers reveal the presence of a duplicate histone H3 in the marine turtle leech Ozobranchus branchiatus. Conservation Genetics Resources 4:487-490.

Peters, J.L., K. Winker, & K.G. McCracken. 2012. Heterogeneity in genetic diversity among non-coding loci fails to fit neutral models of population history. PLoS One 7:e319722. 

Bulgarella, M., J.L. Peters, C. Kopuchian, T.H. Valqui, R.E. Wilson, & K.G. McCracken. 2012. Multilocus coalescent analyses reveal the effects of balancing selection of the hemoglobin variants in high altitude populations of crested ducks (Lophonetta specularioides). Molecular Ecology 21:350-368.

Wilson, R.E., M.D. Eaton, S.A. Sonsthagen, J.L. Peters, K.P. Johnson, B. Simarra, & K.G. McCracken. 2011. Speciation, subspecies divergence, and paraphyly in the Cinnamon Teal and Blue-winged Teal. Condor 113:747-761.

Bulgarella, M., M.D. Sorenson, J.L. Peters, R.E. Wilson, & K.G. McCracken. 2010. Phylogenetic relationships of AmazonettaSpeculanasLophonetta, and Tachyeres: Four morphologically divergent duck genera endemic to South America. Journal of Avian Biology 41:186-199.

Rooney, T.P., J.L. Peters, and J.L. Hays. 2010. Changes in the Sugarcreek Metropark bird community between 1978 and 2010. The Ohio Cardinal 34:30-37.

Humphries, E. M., J.L Peters, J.E. Jónsson, R. Stone, A.D. Afton, & K.E. Omland. 2009. Genetic differentiation between sympatric and allopatric wintering populations of snow geese. The Wilson Journal of Ornithology 121:730-738.

McCracken, K.G., C.P. Barger, M. Bulgarella, K.P. Johnson, M.K. Kuhner, A.V. Moore, J.L. Peters., J. Trucco, T.H. Valqui, K. Winker, & R.E. Wilson. 2009. Signatures of high-altitude adaptation in the major hemoglobin of five species of Andean dabbling ducks. American Naturalist 174:631-650.

McCracken, K.G., M. Bulgarella, K.P. Johnson, M.K. Kuhner, J. Trucco, T.H. Valqui, R.E. Wilson, & J.L. Peters. 2009. Gene flow in the face of countervailing selection: adaptation to high-altitude hypoxia in the βA hemoglobin subunit of yellow-billed pintails in the Andes. Molecular Biology and Evolution 26:815-827.

Peters, J.L., Y. Zhuravlev, I. Fefelov, E.M. Humphries, & K.E. Omland. 2008. Multilocus phylogeography of a Holarctic duck: colonization of North America from Eurasia by gadwalls (Anas strepera). Evolution 62:1469-1483.

Kondo, B., J.L. Peters, B.B. Rosensteel, & K.E. Omland. Coalescent analyses of multiple loci support a new route to speciation in birds. Evolution 62:1182-1191.

Peters, J.L., Y. Zhuravlev, I. Fefelov, A. Logie, & K.E. Omland. 2007. Nuclear loci and coalescent methods support ancient hybridization as cause of mitochondrial paraphyly between gadwall and falcated duck (Anas spp.). Evolution 61:1992-2006.

Peters, J.L., & K.E. Omland. 2007. Population structure and mitochondrial polyphyly in North American gadwalls (Anas strepera). Auk 124:444-462.

Omland, K.E., J.M. Baker, & J.L. Peters. 2006. Genetic signatures of intermediate divergence: population history of Old and New World Holarctic ravens (Corvus corax). Molecular Ecology 15:795-808.

Peters, J.L., W. Gretes, &K.E. Omland. 2005. Late Pleistocene divergence between eastern and western populations of wood ducks (Aix sponsa) inferred by the ‘isolation with migration’ coalescent method. Molecular Ecology 14:3407-3418.

Peters, J.L., K.G. McCracken, Y.N. Zhuravlev, Y. Lu, R.E. Wilson, K.P. Johnson, & K.E. Omland. 2005. Phylogenetics of wigeons and allies (Anatidae: Anas): the importance of sampling multiple loci and multiple individuals. Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution 35:209-224.

Peters, J.L., G.L. Brewer, & L.M. Bowe. 2003. Extrapair paternity and breeding synchrony in gadwalls (Anas strepera) in North Dakota. Auk 120:883-888.

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