Researchat KU herpetology investigates the diversity of reptiles and amphibians. A diverse team of researchers uses our collections, field study, and work in the molecular laboratory to discover new diversity, characterize global patterns of diversity, and understand the evolutionary origins of this diversity.

Research at a Glance

Publication Highlights

  • Carl Hutter and colleagues describe a new species of frog from the Ecuadorian Andes that can transform the texture of its skin from smooth to spiky in just a few minutes. This is the first documented discovery of such an ability in vertebrates and was published in the Zoological Journal of the Linnaean Society in 2015. Check out this short video about their discovery.

Field & Lab Work

Our research is typically built around observations of animals in nature. This work in nature motivates our research questions and provides the data we require to answer them. In a typical year, our researchers will participate in more than a dozen research expeditions in locations around the globe, often involving international teams where KU researchers work side by side with researchers from the host country. Our field work typically generates important new research collections that are jointly curated by KU and affiliated institutions in our host countries. Over the past three years (2013-2016) we have been involved with expeditions to at least 12 countries, including the Philippines, India, Cuba, the Solomon Islands, Madagascar, Malaysia, Cameroon, Dominican Republic, the Bahamas, Brazil, Mongolia, and Indonesia. 

Undergraduate Abby Fields Conducting LabworkMany KU herpetology researchers conduct molecular genetic studies in the Biodiversity Institute's Molecular Genetics Lab, a shared-use facility available to all members of the BI community. The molecular data collected by researchers in KU herpetology are instrumental in understanding the processes that have shaped the diversity of life on our planet.