Research in the Laboratory of Integrative and Comparative Herpetology lab is broadly concerned with understanding the physiological mechanisms that underlie animal diversity. In short, we seek to answer the “how” and “why” questions that pertain to animal function. Although most of our studies take place at the whole-organism level, recent investigations have drawn on inferences from biochemical properties of cell membranes, to tissue-level processes, to populations and communities. Our research is also integrative and comparative, which means we draw from multiple fields of inquiry (morphology, physiology, ecology, behavior, evolution) and include several species or population in each investigation. Although we occasionally study other animals, most of our research has focused on amphibians and reptiles. These two groups of vertebrates are very diverse (nearly 20,000 species combined), live in most habitats across the globe, and possess numerous adaptations and specializations that capture the fascination of scientists and the public alike. The evolutionary relationships are also well resolved for most groups of amphibians and reptiles, allowing us to test general hypotheses in an evolutionary framework.
A number of research projects are currently underway, some of which are externally funded and all involve student participants.
- Thermal biology and water relations of amphibians and reptiles (and occasionally other groups)
- variation in tolerances to temperature and water loss in relation to climatic variation
- physiological adaptations to cold-climate environments (e.g., high elevation, high latitude)
- temperature-dependent performance (locomotion, digestion, etc.)
- Evolution and biological consequences of diet
- adaptations of gut morphology and physiology in herbivorous reptiles and diet specialists
- characterizing and comparing gut microbiomes and their relationship to host sociality
- Identifying the mechanisms underlying the success of urban and invasive species
- Evolution and benefits of sociality in squamate reptiles
- Evolutionary convergence and biological rules
- Evolution and ecophysiological implications of reproductive modes in squamate reptiles
- Speciation, species boundaries, and biogeography of amphibians and reptiles
We welcome bright, hard-working undergraduate and graduate students who share our interests in herpetology, or aspects of the physiology, ecology, functional morphology, and behavior of most animals. Our laboratory facilities--coupled with those in the department, university, and the southern California environment--provide excellent opportunities for research. LICH offers a diversity-friendly, supportive yet critical environment for fulfilling intellectual and academic pursuits. You can learn more about research opportunities and expectations for investigators in LICH on the Join the Lab pagelet above.