Lukas J. Musher

Research Associate, Vertebrate Zoology, Ornithology

Research Interests

I am a postdoc at the AMNH studying how biodiversity arises and accumulates in the tropics. I combine phylogenomics, biogeography, population genetics, and statistical modeling to test questions about the origins and assembly of avian communities in the Neotropics. I am particularly interested in the Amazon, as it is the most diverse terrestrial biome on the planet. I use high-throughput sequencing technologies and specimen-based research to ask questions about how landscape evolution such as that driven by climate change and watershed evolution have shaped patterns of population genetic and taxonomic diversity by facilitating dispersal, isolation, and gene flow. Museum collections are an incredibly important and irreplaceable resource for biological research. I conduct my own field work in addition to leveraging existing museum specimens to answer evolutionary questions.



Musher, L.J., P.J. Galante, G. Thom, J.W. Huntley, and M.E. Blair (2020) Shifting ecosystem connectivity during the Pleistocene drove diversification and gene-flow in a species-complex of Neotropical suboscine birds (Tityridae: Pachyramphus). J. Biogeogr.

Cracraft, J., C.C. Ribas, F.M. d'Horta, J. Bates, R.P. Almeida, J.P. Boubli, K.E. Campbell, F.W. Cruz, M. Ferreira, S.C. Fritz, C.H. Grohmann, E.M. Latrubesse, L.G. Lohmann, L.J. Musher, A. Nogueira, A.O. Sawakuchi, P. Baker. (2020) The origin and evolution of Amazonian species diversity. In V. Rull and A. Carnaval (ed.) Neotropical Diversification. Springer, Berlin.


Coelho, L., L.J. Musher, and J. Cracraft (2019) A multireference-based whole-genome assembly for the obligate ant-following antbirdRhegmatorhina melanosticta (Thamnophilidae). Diversity 11(9): 144 (invited submission for special issue, “Genomic analyses of avian evolution,” P. Houde & M. Wink [ed.])

Musher, L.J., M. Ferreira, A. Auerbach, J. Mckay, and J. Cracraft (2019) Why is Amazonia a ‘source’ of biodiversity? Climate-mediated dispersal and synchronous speciation across the Andes in an avian group (Tityrinae) Proc. R. Soc. B 286(1900): 20182343

Franz, N., L.J. Musher, J.W. Brown, S. Yu, and B. Ludäscher (2019) Verbalizing phylogenomic conflict:  Representation of node congruence across competing reconstructions of the “Neoavian explosion”. PLOS Computational Biology. 15(2): e1006493

Huntley, J.W., K. Keith, A.A. Castellanos, L.J. Musher, and G. Voelker (2019) Underestimated and cryptic diversification patterns across Afro-tropical lowland forests. Journal of Biogeography 46: 381–391


Musher, L.J., and J. Cracraft. Phylogenomics and species delimitation of a complex radiation of Neotropical suboscine birds (Pachyramphus). Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution 118: 204-221.


Musher, L. J., Pyle, P., Irons, D.S., and Tietz, J.R.. Identification of male Euphagus blackbirds in fresh fall plumages. Western Birds 48(3): 1–6.


Musher, L.J., David Mizrahi, Bruno Jackson Melo de Almeida, Alexander Lees, and Marcelo Holderbaum. Curlew Sandpiper Calidris ferruginea in the western Atlantic: the first and second Brazilian records in Maranhão and Ceará (2016) Rev. Bras. Ornithol. 24 (1), 62-67


Musher, L. J. Documenting Declines in Common Nighthawks: how birders can help. (2013) Birding 45 (3): 30-37


Latta, Steven C., L.J. Musher, Krista N. Latta and Todd E. Katzner. Influence of human population size and the built environment on avian assemblages in urban green spaces. (2012) Urban Ecosystems 15 (4): 773-1030

Teaching Experience

  • Teaching Assistant, Graduate Course, entitled, “Fundamentals of Evolution”, Columbia University, Dept. of Ecology, Evolution, and Environmental Biology, Instructors: Drs. Joel Cracraft and Donald Melnick, Fall 2015
  • Undergraduate Teaching Assistant, Wyoming Field Course, University of Pittsburgh, Honors College, Instructors: Mandela Lyons, Dr. Steven C. Latta, Dr. Edward McCord, Summer 2010
  • Undergraduate Teaching Assistant; Avian Ecology, University of Pittsburgh, Dept. of Biological Sciences, Instructor: Dr. Anthony Bledsoe, Summer 2009