About the Lab

We are a group of conservation biologists applying evolutionary and ecological theory to real world organisms

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

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.

Conceptually, we generally take a historical or genetic approach to understanding organismal form, function, and diversity. We often, but not always, use molecular tools to establish a phylogenetic or population genetic framework to explain the history of a clade of organisms. Then, we use genetic, ecological, and morphological approaches to probe the ways in which members of that clade have diversified to exploit new habitats and life histories.

Our work in the last decade has spanned phylogenetic levels ranging from the tree of life of living turtle to detailed analyses of population history within individual species of amphibians and reptiles. Increasingly, our research contributes to the conservation and recovery of endangered species, particularly in California. We have had field projects in North, Central and South America, Asia, and Australia over the last 10 years, and all of us are actively engaged in field work at home and abroad.