The morphological systems of organisms often serve multiple functions. How multifunctionality influences the evolution of morphology is an open question in biology. I have been working to test whether multifunctionality in the wings of volant diving birds has constrained or facilitated the diversification of wing shape and size.
To do so, I characterized the wings of 2,326 wings from 955 species using geometric morphometrics – the largest dataset of avian wing shapes or sizes assembled to date. As part of my data collection, I was invited to visit the Burke Museum, which houses the largest collection of spread bird wings in the world.