Research

My research is centered on two main foci:

 

A major component of my research program is focused on studies of the biology of the West Indian Boas. By pairing field study throughout the Caribbean with genetic data generated in the lab, I am able to examine the natural history, ecology, evolution, and conservation of these fascinating snakes. I conduct regular field work in the Turks and Caicos Islands, Puerto Rico, the Bahamas, and the Dominican Republic. You can find more information on individual projects and over a dozen publications under the West Indian Boas drop-down menu above.

Biology of West Indian Boas Picture1

Evolutionary Genetics of West Indian Anoles

IMG_5011

Understanding the distribution of genetic variation within species is a crucial component of the study of dynamic processes, such as speciation and diversification, as well as patterns, such as biogeography and community assemblage. A major theme of my work involves understanding these patterns and processes in the West Indian anoles. For example, I am currently studying phylogeographic patterns in the Cuban Brown Anole (Anolis sagrei) across the broad range of this species, which encompasses much of the Caribbean Basin. I am using both sequence-based and RADseq approaches to determine the extent of genetic and morphological variation within the species in collaboration with my former postdoc mentor Jonathan Losos and Losos Lab members.

 

Additional research themes:

 

 

I study the evolutionary relationships of these fascinating snakes using multilocus phylogenetic and species-tree approaches coupled with divergence-time and historical biogeographic analyses. I am also working towards assembling a complete species-level tree of life for these groups (Reynolds et al. 2014; Pyron et al. 2015).

Evolution and Systematics of Boas and Pythons

Demographic dynamics influence distributions of diversity, and I have used simulations and population genetic analyses to test the computational methods that have been developed to estimate the historical demography of populations of organisms threatened with extinction (Reynolds and Fitzpatrick 2013).  In collaboration with my former postdoc advisor Liam Revell, I have used empirical datasets to test novel phylogenetic comparative methods (Revell and Reynolds 2012; Revell et al. 2015).

 Computational Population and Phylogenetics

Invasive Species Genetics

I use genetic data in the assessment of biological invasions. Starting with a review of the topic, we provided suggestions for appropriate ways to incorporate genetic data into invasive species biology (Fitzpatrick et al. 2012). I am also interested in using both simulations and empirical data to better understand how to obtain meaningful estimates of population genetic parameters (θ, Ne) in non-equilibrium populations. Empirically, I study recent invasions of Boa Constrictors in the Caribbean (Reynolds et al. 2013; Bushar et al. 2015).
I am interested in how behavior and environment influence evolutionary trajectories and speed. Presently, I am collaborating on studying urban evolutionary ecology, or the ecological and evolutionary response to novel environments in tropical lizards in Florida (Anolis carolinensis) [Stuart et al. 2014] and Puerto Rico (Anolis cristatellus) [Winchell et al. 2016]. I have also studied the rapid evolution of novel behavioral and phenotypic characteristics in island and mainland anoles (Siliceo-Cantero et al. 2016). Previously, I tested for assortative mating between two color morphs of the Strawberry Poison-Dart Frog, Dendrobates pumilio, a group with striking geographic variation in aposematic color patterns (Reynolds and Fitzpatrick 2007).

Evolutionary Ecology

Herpetofauna of Remote Caribbean Islands

Graham in Kayak

I explore remote islands in the Caribbean, which has resulted in a number of minor and major discoveries. For example, we discovered a new species of boa, the Silver Boa, on the uninhabited Conception Island Bank in the Bahamas (Reynolds et al. 2016). I have also surveyed a number of other remote islands in the Bahamas (Winchell et al. 2015; Blog Post), British Virgin Islands (blog post), and Turks & Caicos Islands (Reynolds 2011).

Vertebrates of the Southeastern US

 

 

I have conducted field research on amphibians and reptiles in Tennessee, leading to  the books The Amphibians of Tennessee (Niemiller and Reynolds 2011) and The Reptiles of Tennessee (Niemiller et al. 2013). The intention of these volumes is to provide the region with definitive, accessible references to use in education, promotion, and awareness of the rich herpetofaunal diversity in the southern Appalachian Mountains. My current students are interested in high elevation salamanders endemic to the southeast and are conducting projects on Plethodon welleri. I have also collaborated on projects ranging from cavefish phylogeography and salamander natural history (1, 2, 3) to herpetofaunal community composition.

 

Overseas Research Trips:

Bahamas July 2017 (upcoming)
Turks and Caicos, March 2017
Bahamas, June 2016
Cayman Islands, May 2016
British Virgin Islands, May 2016
Bahamas, March 2016
Cayman Brac and Little Cayman, November 2015
Bahamas, October 2015
Turks and Caicos, September 2015
Bahamas, August 2015
Bahamas, July 2015
Bahamas, June 2015
Bahamas, May 2015
Bahamas, March 2015
Puerto Rico, January 2015
Puerto Rico, January 2014
Dominican Republic, October 2013
Turks and Caicos, September 2013
Puerto Rico, August 2013
Dominican Republic, March 2013
Puerto Rico, January 2013
Bahamas, November 2012
Turks and Caicos, April 2012
Puerto Rico, March 2012
Puerto Rico, January 2012
Turks and Caicos, September 2011
Turks and Caicos, March 2010
Turks and Caicos, October 2009
Turks and Caicos, March 2009
Turks and Caicos, August 2008
Turks and Caicos, July 2008
Turks and Caicos, December 2007
Turks and Caicos, March 2007
Panama, June-July 2003
Jalisco, Mexico, May-June 2001
Jalisco, Mexico, March 2000
Jalisco, Mexico, May 1999

Informal International Field Trips (to see wildlife):

Mexico, September 2013
Panama, December 2011
Baja California, Nov. 2011
Australia and New Zealand, July 2011
Baja California, May 2010
Panama, March 2009
Panama, January 2009
Costa Rica, May 2008
Panama, March 2008
Bahamas, July 2007
Baja California, July-August 2006
Panama, May 2006
Costa Rica, May 2006
Mexico, March 2006
Baja California, August 2005
East and South Africa, October-December 2004
Central and South America, August-October 2004
Bonaire, May 2004
Costa Rica, December 2003
Costa Rica, August-December 2002