Frank T Burbrink

Frank T Burbrink
American Museum of Natural History · Herpetology

PhD

About

219
Publications
84,670
Reads
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8,575
Citations
Additional affiliations
August 2015 - August 2020
American Museum of Natural History
Position
  • Associate Curator
August 2002 - August 2015
CUNY Graduate Center
Position
  • Professor
June 2000 - August 2002
Louisiana State University
Position
  • PostDoc Position

Publications

Publications (219)
Article
It was not known that phylogenetic analysis of population genetic data would show geographic structure when Avise et al. (1979) introduced the unnamed field of phylogeography. Since then, the field has grown from using single gene fragments to whole genomes resulting in more than 22,000 publications. This seemingly simple relationship between geogr...
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Full-text available
Species‐level taxonomy derives from empirical sources (data and techniques) that assess the existence of spatiotemporal evolutionary lineages via various species “concepts.” These concepts determine if observed lineages are independent given a particular methodology and ontology, which relates the metaphysical species concept to what “kind” of thin...
Article
A long history of isolation coupled with complex landscapes makes Madagascar ideal for exploring the historical factors that have shaped patterns of population diversity and endemism. Many species‐level studies have suggested Late Quaternary climate change may have influenced population dynamics in the tropics, but unique biomes and individual spec...
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Non-native (invasive) species offer a unique opportunity to study the geographic distribution and range limits of species, wherein the evolutionary change driven by interspecific interactions between native and non-native closely related species is a key component. The red-eared slider turtle, Trachemys scripta elegans (TSE), has been introduced an...
Article
Here, we provide updates to our recent paper reviewing the taxonomy and nomenclature of the Eastern ratsnakes (Pantherophis obsoletus complex, Colubridae, Serpentes). Specifically, we clarify that Coluber alleghaniensis Holbrook, 1836 is a subjective, rather than objective, senior synonym of Elaphis holbrookii Duméril, Bibron & Duméril, 1854. Contr...
Article
Aim Species adapt differently to contrasting environments, such as open habitats with sparse vegetation and forested habitats with dense forest cover. We investigated colonization patterns in the open and forested environments in the diagonal of open formations and surrounding rain forests (i.e. Amazonia and Atlantic Forest) in Brazil, tested wheth...
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Many phylogeographic studies on species with large ranges have found genetic-geographic structure associated with changes in habitat and physical barriers preventing or reducing gene flow. These interactions with geographic space, contemporary and historical climate, and biogeographic barriers have complex effects on contemporary population genetic...
Article
Species delimitation is a first step for realizing the extent of biodiversity and is relevant for all downstream applications in biology. The production of large genome-scale datasets for non-model organisms combined with the development of methodological tools have allowed researchers to examine fine-scale processes of speciation such as timing of...
Preprint
Full-text available
Non-native (invasive) species offer a unique opportunity to study the geographic distribution and range limits of species, wherein the evolutionary change driven by interspecific interactions between native and non-native closely related species is a key component. The red-eared slider turtle, Trachemys scripta elegans (TSE), has been introduced an...
Article
We evaluated the role of Quaternary climatic fluctuations on the demographic history and population structure of amphibian species endemic to the ‘campo rupestre’ in the Neotropics, evaluating their distributional shifts, demographic changes, and diversification from the end of Pleistocene to present. We chose two anurans endemic to the high-elevat...
Article
Inferring the history of divergence between species in a framework that permits the presence of gene flow has been crucial for characterizing the “gray zone” of speciation, which is the period of time where lineages have diverged but have not yet achieved strict reproductive isolation. However, estimates of both divergence times and rates of gene f...
Preprint
Full-text available
Understanding population divergence involves testing diversification scenarios and estimating historical parameters, such as divergence time, population size and migration rate. There is, however, an immense space of possible highly parameterized scenarios that are difsficult or impossible to solve analytically. To overcome this problem researchers...
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The genus Boiga includes 35, primarily arboreal snake species distributed from the Middle East to Australia and many islands in the western Pacific, with particularly high species diversity in SouthEast Asia. Despite including the iconic mangrove snakes (Boiga dendrophila complex) and the brown tree snake (Boiga irregularis; infamous for avian exti...
Preprint
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Estimating species divergence with gene flow has been crucial for characterizing the gray zone of speciation, which is the period of time where lineages have diverged but have not yet achieved strict reproductive isolation. However, estimates of divergence times and gene flow often ignores spatial information, for example the formation and shape of...
Article
The southeastern Nearctic is a biodiversity hotspot that is also rich in cryptic species. Numerous hypotheses (e.g., vicariance, local adaptation, and Pleistocene speciation in glacial refugia) have been tested in an attempt to explain diversification and the observed pattern of extant biodiversity. However, previous phylogeographic studies have bo...
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Genomics is narrowing uncertainty in the phylogenetic structure for many amniote groups. For one of the most diverse and species-rich groups, the squamate reptiles (lizards and snakes, amphisbaenians), an inverse correlation between the number of taxa and loci sampled still persists across all publications using DNA sequence data and reaching a con...
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Sexual-size dimorphism (SSD) is ubiquitous across animals and often biased in the direction of larger females in snakes and other ectothermic organisms. To understand how SSD evolves across species, Rensch's rule predicts that in taxa where males are larger, SSD increases with body size. In contrast, where females are larger, SSD decreases with bod...
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Genetic structure can be influenced by local adaptation to environmental heterogeneity and biogeographic barriers, resulting in discrete population clusters. Geographic distance among populations, however, can result in continuous clines of genetic divergence that appear as structured populations. Here we evaluate the relevant importance of these t...
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Processes leading to spectacular diversity of both form and species on islands have been well-documented under island biogeography theory, where distance from source and island size are key factors determining immigration and extinction resistance. But far less understood are the processes governing in situ diversification on the world's mega islan...
Preprint
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Evolutionary convergence has been long considered primary evidence of adaptation driven by natural selection and provides opportunities to explore evolutionary repeatability and predictability. In recent years, there has been increased interest in exploring the genetic mechanisms underlying convergent evolution, in part due to the advent of genomic...
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Temperature regulation is an indispensable physiological activity critical for animal survival. However, relatively little is known about the origin of thermoregulatory regimes in a phylogenetic context, or the genetic mechanisms driving the evolution of these regimes. Using bats as a study system, we examined the evolution of three thermoregulator...
Article
Within many biomes, the cause of phylogeographic structure remains unknown even across regions throughout North America, including within the biodiverse Chihuahuan Desert. For example, little is known about population structure or the timing of diversification of Chihuahuan endemics. This is due largely to the lack of population genomic studies wit...
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Aim To test three different scenarios to account for the geographic distribution of genetic variation in Dermatonotus muelleri, a fossorial frog endemic of the South American diagonal of open formations (DOF) formed by Chaco, Cerrado, and Caatinga biomes: (a) The pan‐DOF hypothesis, where these biomes behave as a single biogeographical unit and DOF...
Article
Most phylogenies are typically represented as purely bifurcating. However, as genomic data has become more common in phylogenetic studies, it is not unusual to find reticulation among terminal lineages or among internal nodes (deep time reticulation; DTR). In these situations, gene flow must have happened in the same or adjacent geographic areas fo...
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Spatial patterns of genetic variation can help understand how environmental factors either permit or restrict gene flow and create opportunities for regional adaptations. Organisms from harsh environments such as the Brazilian semiarid Caatinga biome may reveal how severe climate conditions may affect patterns of genetic variation. Herein we combin...
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Emerging infectious diseases (EIDs) reduce host population sizes, cause extinction, disassemble communities, and have indirect negative effects on human well-being. Fungal EIDs have reduced population abundances in amphibians and bats across many species over large areas. The recent emergence of snake fungal disease (SFD) may have caused declines i...
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The genus-level taxonomy of the New World racers and whipsnakes (Coluber and Masticophis) has long been contentious regarding whether the two genera are mutually exclusive clades. This argument is based on morphological characters and largely single-locus analyses. Herein we examine the phylogenetic history of this group using multi-locus data in a...
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Although many wide-ranging taxa occur in Madagascar, phylogeographic studies for most of these species are still lacking. This is especially the case for snakes, where of more than 100 endemic species, the population structure of only two species has so far been examined. Here, we examine genetic population structure of one of the most common snake...
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Many studies propose that Quaternary climatic cycles contracted and /or expanded the ranges of species and biomes. Strong expansion-contraction dynamics of biomes presume concerted demographic changes of associated fauna. The analysis of temporal concordance of demographic changes can be used to test the influence of Quaternary climate on diversifi...
Article
Globally distributed groups may show regionally distinct rates of diversification, where speciation is elevated given timing and sources of ecological opportunity. However, for most organisms, nearly complete sampling at genomic-data scales to reduce topological error in all regions is unattainable, thus hampering conclusions related to biogeograph...
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Pleistocene climatic cycles altered species distributions in the Eastern Nearctic of North America, yet the degree of congruent demographic response to the Pleistocene among codistributed taxa remains unknown. We use a hierarchical approximate Bayesian computational approach to test if population sizes across lineages of snakes, lizards, turtles, m...
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We quantify the degree to which co-distributed snakes across the Cochise Filter Barrier (CFB) have a shared history of population divergence and estimate the timing of divergence for each taxon pair. North America. A single locus dataset was collected (n = 747 individuals) for 12 snake taxon pairs. Phylogeographical structure was estimated for each...
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The cat-eyed snakes of the genus Madagascarophis are among the most commonly encountered snake species in Madagascar. Yet despite their broad distribution and frequent occurrence in human-disturbed habitat, Madagascarophis still contains unrecognized species diversity. Here, we describe a new species of Malagasy cat-eyed snake from a specimen found...
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Several biogeographic barriers in the Eastern Nearctic appear to reduce gene flow among populations of many species in predictable ways, however these patterns used to infer process of divergence may be deceiving if alternative modes of diversification are not considered. By using a multilocus statistical phylogeographic approach to examine diversi...
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Viridovipera stejnegeri is one of the most common pitvipers in Asia, with a wide distribution in southern China and Vietnam. We investigated historical demography and explored how the environment and climatic factors have shaped genetic diversity and the evolutionary history of this venomous snake. A total of 171 samples from 47 localities were seq...
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Using molecular data generated by high throughput next generation sequencing (NGS) platforms to infer phylogeny is becoming common as costs go down and the ability to capture loci from across the genome goes up. While there is a general consensus that greater numbers of independent loci should result in more robust phylogenetic estimates, few studi...
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Predicting species presence and richness on islands is important for understanding the origins of communities and how likely it is that species will disperse and resist extinction. The equilibrium theory of island biogeography (ETIB) and, as a simple model of sampling abundances, the unified neutral theory of biodiversity (UNTB), predict that in si...
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Two main hypotheses have been proposed to explain the diversification of the Caatinga biota. The riverine barrier hypothesis (RBH) claims that the S~ao Francisco River (SFR) is a major biogeographic barrier to gene flow. The Pleistocene climatic fluctuation hypothesis (PCH) states that gene flow, geographic genetic structure and demographic signatu...
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The effects of Late Quaternary climate change have been examined for many temperate New World taxa, but the impact of Pleistocene glacial cycles on Neotropical taxa is less well understood, specifically with respect to changes in population demography. Here, we examine historical demographic trends for six species of milksnake with representatives...
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Recent analyses using large-scale phylogenies suggest a radically different history for the evolution of live birth and egg laying in squamate reptiles (lizards and snakes) than traditionally understood. What is the ancestral condition for lizards and snakes? How frequently does live bearing evolve in egg-laying lineages? Can the eggshell ever re-e...
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Examining species diversity and mechanisms of speciation using coalescent models provides a framework for how regional diversity is accrued, even in well-studied areas such as the Nearctic. It is likely, that gene flow among closely-related species with adjacent distributions may be common. However, the absence of gene flow is a primary assumption...
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Assemblages of closely related organisms are generated on axes of deep time diversification, biogeographic processes related to dispersal and habitat filtering, and competition. Using models that account for phylogeny, ecology, and traits, we examine how the interaction among biogeography, habitat filtering, and trait convergence influences communi...
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Molecular phylogenies have provided strong evidence for clarifying the taxonomy of groups with ambiguous morphological traits, thus avoiding potentially misleading conclusions based on evolutionary convergence of these traits. For snakes, established molecular databases along with new sequences from rare species allows us to estimate phylogenies, t...
Article
Phylogenetic niche conservatism (PNC) typically refers to the tendency of closely related species to be more similar to each other in terms of niche than they are to more distant relatives. This has been implicated as a potential driving force in speciation and other species-richness patterns, such as latitudinal gradients. However, PNC has not bee...
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Next-generation genomic sequencing promises to quickly and cheaply resolve remaining contentious nodes in the Tree of Life, and facilitates species-tree estimation while taking into account stochastic genealogical discordance among loci. Recent methods for estimating species trees bypass full likelihood-based estimates of the multi-species coalesce...
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Large molecular datasets including many species and loci have greatly improved our knowledge of snake phylogeny, particularly within the group including boas (Table 1). Recent taxonomic revisions using molecular phylogenies have clarified some of the previously contentious nomenclature of the group (Wilcox et al. 2002; Lawson et al. 2004; Burbrink...
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The genus Pseustes Fitzinger, 1843 is composed of three recognized species, Pseustes poecilonotus, P. shropshirei and P. sulphureus, which may be the largest sized colubrid snake in the New World. The group has a complex systematic history that has yet to be untangled using modern molecular phylogenetic approaches. The systematic position, within-g...
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AimTo evaluate the genetic diversity and phylogeographical structure of Boa constrictor imperator, in order to identify the key historical events responsible for its current distribution and diversity.LocationThe Neotropical region of Mexico and mainland Central America.Methods We used data from the mitochondrial cytochrome b gene, nuclear ornithin...
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AimWe determine whether trait-driven diversification yields similar body size distributions for snakes in local, regional and phylogenetic assemblages. LocationUnited States, North America. Methods Using total length and mass, we examine body size frequency distributions (BSFD) across 79 sites and respective biomes to determine if these areas repre...
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Aim Island biogeography predicts positive relationships between area and species richness resulting from the ecological processes of colonization in smaller areas and the evolutionary process of in situ diversification in larger areas. However, the relative contribution of these ecological and evolutionary processes to diversity on islands over tim...
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Both gene-tree discordance and unrecognized diversity are sources of error for accurate estimation of species trees, and can affect downstream diversification analyses by obscuring the correct number of nodes, their density, and the lengths of the branches subtending them. While the theoretical impact of gene-tree discordance on evolutionary analys...
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Phylogenies are used to estimate rates of speciation and extinction, reconstruct historical diversification scenarios, and link these to ecological and evolutionary factors, such as climate or organismal traits. Recent models can now estimate the effects of binary, multistate, continuous, and biogeographic characters on diversification rates. Other...
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Viviparity has putatively evolved 115 times in squamates (lizards and snakes), out of only ~ 140 origins in vertebrates, and is apparently related to colder climates and other factors such as body size. Viviparity apparently evolves from oviparity via egg-retention, and such taxa may thus still have the machinery to produce thick-shelled eggs. Pari...
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Phylogeographic inference can determine the timing of population divergence, historical demographic processes, patterns of migration, and when extended to multiple species, the history of communities. Single-locus analyses can mislead interpretations of the evolutionary history of taxa and comparative analyses. It is therefore important to revisit...
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Spiny-rayed fishes, or acanthomorphs, comprise nearly one-third of all living vertebrates. Despite their dominant role in aquatic ecosystems, the evolutionary history and tempo of acanthomorph diversification is poorly understood. We investigate the pattern of lineage diversification in acanthomorphs by using a well-resolved time-calibrated phyloge...
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