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Kelly Zamudio

Goldwin-Smith Professor; Faculty Curator of Herpetology, Cornell University Museum of Vertebrates

Dale R Corson Bio Science Wing, Room E209

Educational Background

Ph.D., University of Washington (1996)

B.A., University of California, Berkeley (1991)



My research interests lie in the fields of population biology, population genetics, systematics, and the genetics of conservation. I am particularly interested in the links between patterns of geographic genetic differentiation and attributes of the ecology and life history of organisms such as mating systems, dispersal, and demography. In my research I combine field and laboratory (molecular) approaches to answer questions about organisms, their environments, and their histories.

My research can be divided into three broad areas of investigation: (1) studies of mating systems and sexual selection; (2) evolutionary genetics of reptiles and amphibians at the level of populations, lineages or species;and (3) application of my basic research to conservation, with emphasis on the study of population genetic consequences of anthropogenic landscape change and emergent infectious disease.

I teach a variety of courses at Cornell including: BioEE 2740 The Vertebrates: Form, Function, and Evolution, and BioEE 1780 Evolutionary Biology and Diversity.

Research Focus

I am interested in mechanisms that underlie the origin and maintenance of biodiversity in reptiles and amphibians. A common theme in our lab is identifying and measuring mechanisms of temporal and spatial changes in population genetic differentiation. To do so we address questions at various scales, ranging from individuals (mating systems, relatedness, or reproductive success), to populations (fine-scale population genetics and phylogeography), to species (higher-level systematics). Most students and researchers in the KZ lab work on questions related to amphibian diversification and conservation. Ongoing projects focus primarily on microevolutionary processes contributing to population genetic differentiation, disease resistance in amphibians, and the effects of landscapes (natural or anthropogenically disturbed) on maintenance of genomic diversity and persistence of populations.


Herpetology, evolution, mating systems, systematics, population genetics


  • Ecology and Evolutionary Biology

Graduate Fields

  • Ecology and Evolutionary Biology


  • Savage, A. E., K. R. Zamudio, and M. Sredl. 2011. Disease dynamics vary spatially and temporally in a North American amphibian.  Biological Conservation (in press).
  • Kiemnec-Tyburczy, K., J. Q. Richmond, A. E. Savage, and K. R. Zamudio. 2010. Selection, trans-species polymorphism, and locus identification of major histocompatibility complex class IIβ alleles of New World ranid frogs.  Immunogenetics 62:741-751.
  • Clark, R. W., W. S. Brown, R. Stechert, and K. R. Zamudio. 2010. Roads, interrupted dispersal, and genetic diversity in timber rattlesnakes (Crotalus horridus).  Conservation Biology 24:1059-1069.
  • Thome, M. T. C., K. R. Zamudio, J. G Giovanelli, C. F. B. Haddad, F. A. Baldiserra, Jr., and J. M. B. Alexandrino. 2010. Phylogeography of endemic toads and post-Pliocene persistence of the Brazilian Atlantic Forest.  Molecular Forest and Evolution 55:1018-1031.
  • Becker, C. G., R. D. Loyola, C. F. B. Haddad, and K. R. Zamudio. 2010. Integrating species life history traits and patterns of deforestation in amphibian conservation planning.  Diversity and Distributions 16:10-19.
  • Galbreath, K. E., D. J. Hafner, K. R. Zamudio, and K. Agnew. 2010. Isolation and introgression in the Intermountain West: contrasting gene genealogies reveal the complex biogeographic history of the American pika (Ochotona princeps).  Journal of Biogeography 37:344-362.
  • Robertson, J. M. and K. R. Zamudio. 2009. Genetic diversification, vicariance, and selection in a polytypic frog.  Journal of Heredity 100:715-731.