R. Graham Reynolds, Ph.D.
Assistant Professor of Biology, UNC Asheville
Associate, Harvard Museum of Comparative Zoology
Deputy Chair, Anoline Lizard Specialist Group, IUCN SSC
I use laboratory genetic, field-based, and computational techniques to study the evolution and conservation of vertebrates on islands. Most of my work is on reptiles in the Caribbean, particularly in the Bahamas, Turks and Caicos, and Puerto Rico. You can see more about individual projects on the Research or Publications pages.
My students conduct guided independent research on a variety of topics related to vertebrate evolutionary genetics and natural history. You can read about their projects below, as well as find links to their published works.
Shannon is a Biology major with a concentration in Ecology and Evolution. She also manages the UNC Asheville Roots Garden, which teaches students about sustainable agriculture. Her research focuses on habitat use of Plethodon welleri, a high elevation salamander found on mountain tops in Western North Carolina and Eastern Tennessee. She is surveying the biotic and abiotic conditions in which these salamanders reside in order to build a more comprehensive understanding of their habitat and range. Shannon was awarded a UNC Asheville Undergraduate Summer Research Grant for her work. Shannon volunteers for local community gardens and the ROOTS garden at UNC Asheville.
Ari is a Biology major with previous research experience working on paleotropic Lamprophiid (Psammodynastes) snakes, focusing on species from Myanmar and Southeast Asia. He has already published three papers from work completed with George Zug at the Smithsonian, on the morphology of Asian Mockvipers (Miller and Zug 2016), on a potentially new species of Lygosoma from Myanmar (Miller and Zug 2016), and on speciation in Trimeresurus popieorum (Mulcahy et al.; in press). Ari is especially interested in Pan-Asian tree frog (Rhacophoridae) phylogeny, particularly the “flying frogs” of the Rhacophorus genus, as well as the herpetofauna of Myanmar and Southeast Asia. He is currently working on a number of projects related to the biodiversity and systematics of Burmese/Indochina herpetofauna, as well as studying morphometrics of Caribbean Anolis lizards. He is pictured here scouting field sites in Vietnam. Google Scholar; ResearchGate
Emily is a Cell and Molecular Biology major with an interest in herpetology, especially snakes. She is focusing her research on assessing genetic diversity in captive lineages of the Federally Endangered Puerto Rican Boa, Chilabothrus inornatus. By collaborating with managers of public and private collections of this species, she hopes to provide information that will contribute to management plans regarding the maintenance of genetic diversity in U.S. captive populations. Emily also volunteers as a snake educator for local school groups.
Darcy is a Cellular and Molecular Biology major with an interest in molecular phylogenetics. Her research focuses on DNA methylation patterns across amniotes. Using a comparative phylogenetic approach, she hopes to examine evolutionary patterns in DNA methylation and gene expression in diverse organisms. Darcy volunteers at Mission Hospital.
Maaian is a junior Biology major with an interest in vertebrate biology. She is currently conducting scale counts on Anolis lizards to examine whether relationships exist between scale size and categorical variables such as island, habitat, or phylogenetic lineage. She will be using multivariate statistics and phylogenetic data analysis as a component of her work. Maaian volunteers at Brother Wolf Animal Rescue.
Molly is a sophomore Biology major with aspirations to study veterinary medicine. She will be conducting forensic genetic analysis to identify an uncharacterized frog population from the Bahamas.
Clair is a sophomore Biology major with an interest in all things Science. She is going to be learning genetic data analysis and assisting other students while formulating her research plan.
Ally is a junior Biology major interested in genetics, cell and molecular biology, and proteomics. Ally is researching ontogenetic color change in boas (Boidae) to determine what evolutionary and ecological impacts this trait might have on certain boid species. Ally volunteers at NC Brookhaven.
Kay is a sophomore Biology major interested in Hellbenders. Kay is currently working with Wild South to construct Hellbender nest boxes, with an eye towards testing efficacy of Hellbender monitoring using nest boxes in Buncombe County, North Carolina. Kay volunteers with WildSouth.
A number of additional students are helping generate morphometric and meristic data for a large collaborative dataset on the Festive Anole (Anolis sagrei).
Students can check out books from a library of over 600 titles (and growing!) ranging across many topics in science- with emphasis on genetics, natural history, and global herpetofauna.
My lab is fully stocked with equipment and supplies for both field work and laboratory genetic analysis. I have lots of computational resources as well- from high-RAM desktops to remote cluster access and software.
This could be you! Are you a highly motivated UNC Asheville undergraduate interested in vertebrate biology? The lab is currently full for 2017-2018, but Contact Dr. Reynolds to find out about future opportunities or for more information.
Please find information about working in the lab here: Reynolds Lab Orientation
Interested in studying Biology at UNC Asheville? You are welcome to contact Dr. Reynolds to discuss our program.
UNC Asheville does not have a graduate program in Biology.
I am not currently hiring technician or postdoc positions. Please check back in the future for updates.
Former Lab Members
Amy Castle ’17
Amy was a Biology major with a concentration in Ecology and Evolution and an athlete on the UNC Asheville cross country and track & field teams. Her research focused on Anolis fairchildi, a green anole species found on the remote Cay Sal Bank of the western Bahamas. Amy developed molecular markers and genetic data to contextualize the species within the larger Anolis phylogeny. Amy was awarded a UNC Asheville Undergraduate Summer Research Grant for her work, and published her results in the UNC Asheville Undergraduate Research Journal (see below). Amy is currently preparing to submit the manuscript for publication in a scientific journal.
Robert Chambliss ’16
Robert was a senior Biology major, a Laurel Scholar, and a 2016 McCullough Fellow. He is interested in herpetology and population genetics. Robert studied the salamander Plethodon welleri, a species with a disjunct distribution in the Southern Appalachian highlands. By characterizing the elevational range and genetic relationships of isolated populations of this species, he plans to establish a more comprehensive understanding of the conservation status of these salamanders. Robert is currently working as a field assistant on primate studies in Chiapas, Mexico.
Reynolds Lab Completed Projects
Castle, A.L. 2017. The phylogenetic relationships of native and introduced Anolis lizards on Cay Sal Bank, Bahamas and on Grand Cayman, Cayman Islands. University of North Carolina Asheville Journal of Undergraduate Research 2017: 216-226. [link to PDF]
Miller, A.H. 2017. A New Species of Asian Scincidae from the Kachin State, Myanmar. University of North Carolina Asheville Undergraduate Research Symposium, poster presentation. [link to PDF]
Chambliss, R., and S. Bodeau. 2016. Range, Microhabitat, and Genetics of Weller’s Salamander, Plethodon welleri. University of North Carolina Asheville Undergraduate Research Symposium, poster presentation. [link to PDF] [link to radio broadcast on WCQS]
Reynolds Lab Funded Projects
Fall 2017 Tyrlik, K. Non-invasive population survey of Cryptobranchus alleganiensis using nest boxes in Bent Creek, Asheville, North Carolina. UNC Asheville Undergraduate Research Award ($500)
Summer 2017 Miller, A.H. A new species of Burmese skink from Kachin State, Myanmar. UNC Asheville Undergraduate Research Award ($700)
Summer 2017 Aungst, E. Genetic diversity of the federally endangered Puerto Rican boa in US captive stock. UNC Asheville Undergraduate Research Award ($2,500)
Summer 2016 Bodeau, S. Influence of microhabitat characteristics on Plethodon welleri presence in the western North Carolina highlands. UNC Asheville Undergraduate Research Award ($2,465)
Summer 2016 Castle, A.L. The phylogenetic relationship of Anolis fairchildi among the West Indian Anolis lizards. UNC Asheville Undergraduate Research Award ($2,303.20)
Summer 2016 Chambliss,R. Historical and contemporary elevational range and connectivity among montane populations of a threatened salamander: implications for a changing climate. UNC Asheville McCullough Fellowship Award ($5,000)