Photography Jose J. Nuñez
Professor of Zoology, Instituto de Zoología, Universidad Austral de Chile, casilla 567, Isla Teja, Valdivia, Chile. (email: jjnunezn@gmail.com)
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Name Research Interests: My interests are in taxonomy and systematics, particularly oriented to speciation processes, species delimitation, and conservation of amphibian anurans from southern Chile. I am currently working on the comparative phylogeography of two species of frogs from the Nothofagus forest, Eupsophus calcaratus and Batrachyla leptopus. I also work on species boundaries in fishes and caenogastropods, and on conservation genetics of marine mammals.
Photography Neil Heideman
Vice Dean, Department of Natural and Agricultural Sciences, University of the Free State, P.O. Box 339, Bloemfontein, South Africa (email: HeidemanNJ.SCI@ufs.ac.za)
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Name Research Interests: The current research focus of our group is on legless and semi-legless fossorial skinks for which South Africa has one of the world’s highest diversities. Over the past decade we focused mainly on the phylogeny and phylogeography of the acontines (the giant legless skinks), using molecular markers, in an attempt to better understand their evolutionary history and biogeography, and to test species boundaries in order to verify their current taxonomy. Our findings thus far generally point to a substantial underestimation of their alpha diversity due to their morphologically conservative nature. Recently we expanded our work to include some of the scincines (the dwarf burrowing skinks), focusing on species which are listed in our red data book and thus of conservation concern. Their secretive nature makes fossorial skinks particularly vulnerable to extinction under indiscriminate habitat destruction, which is characteristic of our country’s coastal areas where substantial development and other anthropogenic activities are taking place. There is also a need for baseline information (reproduction, diet, factors influencing distribution patterns, social organization and interactions, population structure, patterns of gene flow, etc.) which we have only started to collect, in order to gain a better understanding of their ecology. Our capacity for carrying out this work is limited and we continually strive to strengthen this through international collaboration and the involvement of post-docs, while at the same time working towards expanding local capacity through postgraduate training.
Photography Teresa C. S. Avila-Pires
Researcher Museu Paraense Emílio Goeldi/CZO and Professor Programa de Pós-Graduação em Zoologia UFPA-MPEG C.P. 399, 66017-970 Belém, PA, Brazil e-mail: avilapires@museu-goeldi.br
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Name Research Interests: My research interests are in taxonomy, zoogeography and conservation of Neotropical reptiles, especially Amazonian lizards. Besides trying to improve our knowledge of the Amazonian herpetofauna, I seek to understand how lizards are distributed in Amazonia and surrounding areas, the relationships among areas with different faunas, and their evolution. The project I am developing at BYU aims to understand the recent history of the lower Amazon and Tocantins Rivers and how the tectonic events that led to the formation of Marajo Island are reflected in the local fauna. For that I am looking at the phylogeography of two co-distributed species of lizards, Gonatodes humeralis and Kentropyx calcarata. This study is part of a larger project involving also birds and several geological studies, so that we expect at the end to integrate all these data. I am involved in an effort to collect and organize data on the species in the red list of the state of Pará, in Brazil, in order to provide a scientific basis for environmental policies.
Photography Marimus S. Hoogmoed
Guest Researcher Museu Paraense Emílio Goeldi/CZO and Caixa Postal 399, 66017-970 Belém, PA, Brazil
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Name Research Interests: My research interests are in taxonomy, morphology, zoogeography and conservation of South American reptiles and amphibians, with an emphasis on the Amazonian area, and more especially the Guianan region. I have been Curator of Herpetology of the National Museum of Natural History, Leiden, The Netherlands from 1966-2003, when I took early retirement and since then have been working in Belém, Pará, Brazil to continue my studies on the neotropical herpetofauna. Since 1975 I have been involved in several functions in CITES, as a member of the Dutch Scientific Authority, a member of the CITES Animals Committee, and Chair of that committee between 2000 and 2002, and co-chair of the Cites Nomenclature Committee between 1994 and 2004. My scientific activities and publications during my Dutch period mainly centered about the herpetofauna of Suriname, but also included other Amazonian areas, as well as Morocco and Ghana. At present I am involved in several projects (including regular fieldwork) to inventory the herpetofauna of Brazilian Amazonia (and among other things a study of the pseudid frogs), and I am finishing several publications on the herpetofauna (mostly amphibians) of Suriname, describing several new species. My stay in Provo was instigated by my wife’s post-doctoral research in the molecular lab, and I am using the opportunity to work in the library of BYU, to finish some manuscripts and to study the South American material in the museum collection.
Photography Rodrigo de Mello
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Name Research Interests: I am interested in evolutionary biology, historical biogeography and conservation genetics of lizards. My doctoral research project is about the phylogeny, phylogeography, and species boundaries in the Brazilian lizard Tropidurus oreadicus. South American landscapes provide several features that make them particularly interesting for biogeographic and evolutionary studies, as a result of complex interactions between geomorphological and climatic events. T. oreadicus has an ecological history related to the open vegetation formations, occurring in open areas of Cerrado and in savanna enclaves in Amazonia. Such range changes can be expected to have genetic consequences and methods based on coalescent theory represent great advances in testing spatial and temporal congruence – this, in turn, can add information in the search for the main drivers for the diversification of South American herpetofauna. I am in a PhD program in the State Univerity of Goias, and was awarded a CAPES-Fulbright fellowship to spend a semester abroad, and this supported by work in the Sites’ lab for 5 months in the spring/summer of 2013.
Photography Cintia Débora Medina
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Name Research Interests: I am a PhD student at Universidad de Córdoba, Argentina, and I am interested on the systematic and phylogeographic aspects of two lizard complexes from Argentina. I am using the integrative taxonomy approach in order to understand species limits. I am using molecular multilocus datasets that I analyze in a phylogeographic context, and complement these data with analyses based on morphometric and meristic data, to estimate species boundaries in Patagonian lizards of the genus Liolaemus.
Photography Dr. Luciano J. Avila
CENPAT-CONICET Boulevard Almirante Brown 2915 U9120ACD, Puerto Madryn Chubut, Argentina
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Name Research Interests: My primary research interests focus on the taxonomy, biogeography, natural history, and conservation of Neotropical reptiles, especially those from arid and semiarid regions of Southern South America. My students and I conduct biological surveys and collect data extensively to secure adequate material to address issues ranging from alpha taxonomy and geographic distributions, to basic ecology and life history strategies, to phylogenetic relationships and more synthetic questions in biogeography and speciation patterns, and the extension of these issues to biodiversity conservation policy.
Photography Roger Maia D. Ledo
Instituto Federal de Educação, Ciência e Tecnologia de Brasília - IFB, Universidade de Brasília – UnB, Brazil
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Name My research interests are focused in ecology, biogeography, and conservation of South American reptiles and amphibians, with an emphasis on lizards. I am conducting my PhD at the Universidade de Brasília (UnB, Brazil), and studying historical biome connections and the evolution of South American tropical rainforests. I am evaluating the connection routes between the Amazon and Atlantic Forests across the South American dry diagonal through environment niche modeling and lizard phylogeography. I had the opportunity to develop part of my study at Dr. Sites' lab due to a long-term cooperative agreement between Dr. Sites’ lab and the herpetology lab at UnB (Dr. Guarino Colli), and I am supported by a fellowship from the agency CAPES (Brazilian “NSF”). I am also a professor at the Instituto Federal de Educação, Ciência e Tecnologia de Brasília (IFB), were I develop studies in conservation and evaluate the efficiency of Brazilian environmental laws in protecting the herpetofauna in the Cerrado.
Photography Flavia Lanna
Federal University of Rio Grande do Norte
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Name My research interests are in phylogeography, ecology, behavior, and natural history of the Brazilian herpetofauna. I am a master’s degree student at Universidade Federal do Rio Grande do Norte, Brazil. The objective of my project is to test the influence of historical factors on the genetic diversity of Lygodactylus klugei, a lizard occurring mostly in the Brazilian Caatinga, a seasonally dry tropical forest. I will use a multilocus molecular dataset to address this aim in my dissertation. I am being advised by Dr. Adrian Garda and co-advised by Dr. Fernanda Werneck and Dr. Marcelo Gehara. Part of my dissertation will be performed in the Dr. Jack W. Sites Jr. lab.
Photography Emanuel Fonseca
Federal University of Rio Grande do Norte
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Name My broader research interests are in biogeography, ecology, natural history, and taxonomy of lizards and amphibians in the Neotropical region. Currently, I am a master’s degree student in ecology at Federal University of Rio Grande do Norte (Natal/Brazil) supervised by Dr. Adrian Garda and co-advised by Dr. Fernanda Werneck and Dr. Marcelo Gehara. My dissertation goals are to understand the mechanisms and processes involved in origin and diversification of the lizard Polychrus acutirostris. This lizard is distributed throughout the South American Dry Diagonal (Caatinga, Cerrado, and Chaco biomes) from northeastern Brazil to northern Argentina, and adjacent countries such as Bolivia and Paraguay.