About the Lab

Welcome! This is the site for the lab group of Brad Shaffer, Distinguished Professor in the Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology at UCLA.

We are a group of conservation biologists applying evolutionary and ecological theory to real world problems. Research in our lab revolves around both conceptual and organismal themes. Organismally, we tend to study amphibians and reptiles. Our fondness for these animals is one of the strongest themes in our research group, and a fundamental respect for natural history and field studies guides all of us.

We spend a lot of time developing, testing, and using genomic techniques to understand the phylogeny and population biology of species and larger lineages. Our work in the last decade has spanned phylogenetic levels ranging from the tree of life of all living turtles to detailed analyses of population history within individual species of amphibians and reptiles.

Increasingly, our research focus is on the conservation and recovery of endangered species, particularly in California. A primary focus of our lab has always been the federally and state listed California tiger salamander, Ambystoma californiense. Recently, our work has focused on an amazing case of hybridization between non-native, introduced Barred tiger salamanders and native California tiger salamanders. It’s a story that has as much to say about mechanisms of speciation as it does about conservation biology, and we continue to explore the system from a variety of genetic, genomic, and ecological perspectives.

We work very closely with the UCLA/La Kretz Center for California Conservation Science and the UC Natural Reserve System Stunt Ranch Reserve. Building strong collaborative research networks with local, state, and federal resource agencies is a key component of our work; the California Conservation Genomics Project (CCGP) is one of our recent such accomplishments.