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
Members of KU herpetology conduct cutting-edge research on reptile and amphibian diversity, with an organismal and specimen-based focus.
Our research staff typically includes 10 or more researchers, including students, postdocs, visiting scholars, and curators.
At any given time, KU researchers will be working on dozens of individual research projects, ranging from experimental studies of reproductive isolation in West Indian anoles to phylogenomic analyses of adaptive radiation in Philippine vertebrates.
- Our work resulted in more than 20 peer-reviewed publications in 2016.
We host on-site specimen-based research by 30–50 visiting researchers per year with international visiting scholars hosted through KU’s International Programs Office.
Our work is funded chiefly by the Biodiversity Institute and competitive research grants.
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.
Many 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.