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Queen's University

BIOL 537 2014-15
Dr. S.C. Lougheed

Rm:  4428 Bioscience Complex
Tel:   (613) 533-6128
Faculty Web Site:
Lab Web Site:


We are interested in understanding the origins of biodiversity from the level of local adaptation and limiting gene flow in single landscapes, through the genetics of entire species' ranges, to understanding the processes that produce new, reproductively isolated species. Our research focuses on landscape genetics, phylogeography and phylogenetics of select frogs, snakes, lizards, and birds. We also use a suite of molecular tools, radiotelemetry and habitat characterization to study species of conservation concern in Canada and provide direct inputs into conservation planning and habitat stewardship. The following provides two examples of projects. 

Project 1. Phenotypic plasticity of tadpole morphology among wetlands with different suites of vertebrate and invertebrate predators.
Many amphibian species spend significant portions of their lives in a larval phase where mortality can be exceptionally high due to the presence of various vertebrate (e.g. fish) and invertebrate (e.g. giant water bug) predators. This project will evaluate tadpole morphology (across multiple frog taxa) among different wetlands at the Queen’s University Biological Station – those with a short hydroperiod where fish predators are absent, and those where both invertebrate and vertebrate predators are present. Such information will provide insights into evolutionary malleability of phenotype and the possibility of local adaptation. 

Project 2. Conservation genetic of snakes.
Human activities can negatively and potentially irrevocably alter species distributions and persistence. Understanding the many genetic and demographic consequences of anthropogenic events is a major focus of conservation and of our lab. Building on our previous research, this student project will combine fieldwork, genetics and GIS to evaluate genetic population structure of snake species of conservation concern. Of particular interest will be Lake Erie watersnakes (found exclusively in islands in Lake Erie) and other watersnake island populations in Lakes Ontario and Michigan. Our hope is that such high-resolution genetic data will provide further insights into the need for conservation of island watersnakes and other temperate snake taxa of conservation concern.


Kingston, Ontario, Canada. K7L 3N6. 613.533.2000