©2018 by Ben Karin

Museum of Vertebrate Zoology, University of California Berkeley
3101 Valley Life Sciences Building
Berkeley, CA 94720

Research Areas

 

Skink Evolution

Skinks are the most diverse family of lizards with over 1,600 species worldwide with a wide range of unique morphological adaptations and life-histories. I have previously worked on several projects in skink systematics, phylogenetics, and biogeography. 

For my dissertation research I am focusing on three genera of skinks (Eutropis, Sphenomorphus, Tytthoscincus) on Sulawesi and Borneo to investigate the processes by which clades of closely related species have diversified on either side of Wallace’s Line and how their island-wide communities have been assembled, as well as species turnover and evolution across elevational gradients within islands.

Marker Selection for Phylogenomics

With Todd Jackman (Villanova University) and Tony Gamble (Marquette University), I compiled a set of orthologous, highly informative, protein-coding loci that should be able to resolve difficult nodes in the tree of life. We call this set of markers Rapidly Evolving Long Exon Capture (RELEC). The publication should be coming out in MBE soon!

Species Discoveries and Descriptions

Species are the principal units for studying evolution and implementing conservation, and as such it is critical to describe the diversity of life in the world. So far I have described 4 species of skink and 1 gecko from Indonesia and Malaysia. On recent field work we have found several more new species that we hope to describe soon!