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Kelly Zamudio

Goldwin Smith Professor of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology; 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


  • Ballen, C. J., S. M. Aguillon, R. Brunelli, A. G. Drake, D. Wassenberg, S. L. Weiss, K. R. Zamudio, S. Cotner. 2018. Do small classes in higher education reduce performance gaps in STEM? BioScience 68: 593-600.
  • Fisher, M. C., P. Ghosh, J. M. G. Shelton, K. Bates, L. Brookes, C. Wierzbicki, G. M. Rosa, R. Farrer, D. M. Aanensen1, M. Alvarado-Rybak, A. Bataille, L. Berger, S. Böll, J. Bosch, F. C. Clare, E. Courtois, A. Crottini, A. A. Cunningham, T. M. Doherty-Bone, F. Gebresenbet, D. J. Gower, J. Höglund, T. Y. James, T. S. Jenkinson, T. A. Kosch, C. Lambertini, A. Laurila, C.-F. Lin, A. Loyau, A. Martel, S. Meurling, C. Miaud, P. Minting, S. Ndriantsoa, F. Pasmans, T. Rakotonanahary, F. C. E. Rabemananjara, L. P. Ribeiro, D. S. Schmeller, B. R. Schmidt, L. Skerratt, F. Smith, C. Soto-Azat, G. Tessa, L. F. Toledo, A. Valenzuela-Sánchez, R. Verster, J. Vörös, B. Waldman, R. J. Webb, C. Weldon, E. Wombwell, K. R. Zamudio, J. Longcore, T. W. J. Garner. 2018. Development and worldwide use of non-lethal, and minimal population-level impact, protocols for the isolation of amphibian chytrid fungi. Nature Scientific Reports 8: 7772.
  • O'Hanlon, S.J., A. Rieux, R.A. Farrer, G.M. Rosa, B. Waldman, A. Bataille, T. A. Kosch, K. Murray, B. Brankovics, M. Fumagalli, M. D. Martin, N. Wales, M. Alvarado-Rybak, K. A. Bates, L. Berger, S. Böll, L. Brookes, F. Clare, E. A. Courtois, A. A. Cunningham, T. M. Doherty-Bone, P. Ghosh, D. J. Gower, W. E. Hintz, J. Höglund, T. S. Jenkinson, C.-F. Lin, A. Laurila, A. Loyau, A. Martel, S. Meurling, C. Miaud, P. Minting, F. Pasmans, D. Schmeller, B. R. Schmidt, J. M. G. Shelton, L. F. Skerratt, F. Smith, C. Soto-Azat, M. Spagnoletti, G. Tessa, L. F. Toledo, A. Valenzuela-Sánchez, R. Verster, J. Vörös, R. J. Webb, C. Wierzbicki, E. Wombwell, K. R. Zamudio, D. M. Aanensen, T. Y. James, M. T. P. Gilbert, C. Weldon, J. Bosch, F. Balloux, T. W. J. Garner, M. C. Fisher. 2018. Recent Asian origin of chytrid fungi causing global amphibian declines. Science 360: 621-627.
  • Kiemnec-Tyburczy, K., K. E. Tracy, K. R. Lips, and K. R. Zamudio. 2018. Genetic variation and selection of MHC class I loci differ in two congeneric frogs. Genetica 146: 125-136.
  • Poff, N.L., E. I. Larson, P. Salerno, S. G. Morton, B. C. Kondratieff, A. S. Flecker, K. R. Zamudio, W. C. Funk. 2018. Extreme streams: Population persistence and evolutionary change in montane stream insect populations across a flooding gradient. Ecology Letters 21: 525-535.
  • Sabbag, A. F., M. L. Lyra, K. R. Zamudio, C. F. B. Haddad, R. N. Feio, F. S. F. Leite, J. L. Gasparini, C. A. Brasileiro. 2018. Molecular phylogeny of Neotropical rock frogs reveals a long history of vicariant diversification in the Atlantic forest. Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution 122: 142-156.
  • DiRenzo, G. V., E. C. Grant, A. V. Longo, K. R. Zamudio, K. R. Lips. 2018. Imperfect pathogen detection from non-invasive skin swabs biases inference of disease dynamics. Methods in Ecology and Evolution 9: 380-389.
  • Ballen, C. J., C. Wieman, S. Salehi, J. B. Searle, K. R. Zamudio. 2017. Enhancing diversity in undergraduate science: Self-efficacy drives performance gains with active learning. CBE Life Sciences Education 16: ar56 doi:10.1187/cbe.16-12-0344.
  • Shah, A., B. A. Gill, A. C. Encalada, A. S. Flecker, W. C. Funk, J. M. Guayasamin, B. C. Kondratieff, N. L. Poff, S. A. Thomas, K. R. Zamudio, C. Ghalambor. 2017. Climate variability predicts thermal limits of aquatic insects across elevation and latitude. Functional Ecology 31: 2118-2127.
  • Bell, R. C., J. L. Parra, G Badjedjea, M. Barej, D. Blackburn, M. Burger, A. Channing, J. M. Dehling, E. Greenbaum, V. Gvoždík, J. Kielgast, C. Kusumba, S. Lötters, P. J. McLaughlin, Z. T. Nagy, M-O Rödel, D. M. Portik, , J. VanDerWal, B. L. Stuart, K. R. Zamudio. 2017. Idiosyncratic responses to climate-driven forest fragmentation and marine incursions in reed frogs from Central Africa and the Gulf of Guinea Islands. Molecular Ecology 26: 5223-5244.
  • Lopes, C., T. Sasso, A. Valentini, T. Dejean, M. Martins, K. R. Zamudio, C. F. B. Haddad. 2017. eDNA metabarcoding: a promising method for anuran surveys in highly diverse tropical forests. Molecular Ecology Resources 17: 904-914.
  • Hydeman, M. E., A. V. Longo, G. Velo-Antón, D. Rodriguez, K. R. Zamudio, and R. C. Bell. 2017. Prevalence and genetic diversity of Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis in Central African island and continental amphibian communities. Ecology and Evolution 7: 7729-7738.
  • Longo, A. V. and K. R. Zamudio. 2017. Temperature variation, bacterial diversity, and fungal infection dynamics in the amphibian skin. Molecular Ecology 26: 4787-4797.
  • Sasso, T., C. M. Lopes, A. Valentini, T. Dejean, K. R. Zamudio, C. F. B. Haddad, M. R. C. Martins. 2017. Environmental DNA characterization of amphibian communities in the Brazilian Atlantic forest: potential application for conservation of a rich and threatened fauna. Biological Conservation 215: 225-232.
  • Becker, C. G., A. V. Longo, C. F. B. Haddad, and K. R. Zamudio. 2017. Land cover and forest connectivity alter the interactions among host, pathogen, and skin microbiome. Proc Roy Soc B 284: 20170582.
  • Muletz-Wolz, C. R., J. G. Almario, S. E. Barnett, G. V. DiRenzo, A. Martel, F. Pasmans, K. R. Zamudio, L. F. Toledo, and K. R. Lips. 2017. Inhibition of fungal pathogens across genotypes and temperatures by amphibian skin bacteria. Frontiers in Microbiology 8: 1551.
  • Polato, N. R., M. M. Gray, B. A. Gill, K. L. Anderson, C. G. Becker, A. S. Flecker, B. C. Kondratieff, A. C. Encalada, N. L. Poff, W. C. Funk, K. R. Zamudio. 2017. Genetic diversity and gene flow decline with elevation in montane mayflies. Heredity 119: 107-116.
  • Ellison, A., G. DiRenzo, C. McDonald, K. R. Lips, K. R. Zamudio. 2017. First in vivo Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis transcriptomes reveal mechanisms of host exploitation, host-specific gene expression, and expressed genotype shifts. G3: Genes, Genomes, Genetics 7: 269-278.
  • Longo, A. V. and K. R. Zamudio. 2017. Environmental fluctuations and host skin bacteria shift survival advantage between frogs and their fungal pathogen. ISME 11: 349-361.
  • Becker, C. G., S. E. Greenspan, K. E. Tracy, T. Y. James, J. A. Dash, C. Lambertini, T. S. Jenkinson, J. E. Longcore, L. F. Toledo, K. R. Zamudio. 2017. Variation in phenotype and virulence among endemic and pandemic amphibian chytrid strains. Fungal Ecology 26: 45-50.
  • Lessmann, J., J. M. Guayasamin, K. L. Casner, A. S. Flecker, W. C. Funk, C. K. Ghalambor, B. A. Gill, I. Jácome-Negrete, B. C. Kondratieff, L. N. Poff, J. Schreckinger, S. A. Thomas, E. Toral-Contreras, K. R. Zamudio, A. C. Encalada. 2016. Freshwater vertebrate and invertebrate diversity patterns in an Andean-Amazon basin: implications for conservation efforts. Neotropical Biodiversity 2: 99-114.
  • Zamudio, K. R., R. C. Bell, R. C. Nali, C. F. B. Haddad, C. P. A. Prado. 2016. Polyandry, predation, and the evolution of reproductive modes in frogs. American Naturalist 188: S41-S61.
  • Davis, L. R., K. Klonoski, H. L. Rutschow, K. J. Van Wijk, Q. Sun, M. M. Haribal, R. A. Saporito, A. Vega, E. B. Rosenblum, K. R. Zamudio, J. M. Robertson. 2016. Host defense skin peptides vary with color pattern in the highly polymorphic red-eyed treefrog. Frontiers in Ecology and Evolution 4: 97. doi: 10.3389/fevo.2016.00097
  • Zamudio, K. R., R. C. Bell, and N. A. Mason. 2016. Phenotypes in phylogeography: species' traits, environmental variation, and vertebrate diversification. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences USA 113: 8041-8048.
  • Jenkinson, T. S., C. M. Betancourt-Román, C. Lambertini, A. V. Aguilar , J. Ruggeri-Gomes, C. H. L. Nunes de Almeida, D. Rodriguez, A. M. Belasen, D. da Silva Leite, K. R. Zamudio, J. E. Longcore, L. F. Toledo, T. Y. James. 2016. Amphibian-killing fungus in Brazil comprises both stable endemic and recently expanded populations. Molecular Ecology 25: 2978-2996.
  • Gill, B. A., B.C. Kondratieff, K.L. Casner, A.C. Encalada, A.S. Flecker, D. Gannon, C.K. Ghalambor, J.M. Guayasamin, N.L. Poff, M.P. Simmons, S.A. Thomas, K. R. Zamudio, and W.C. Funk. 2016. Cryptic species diversity reveals biogeographic support for the "Mountain Passes are Higher in the Tropics" hypothesis. Proceedings of the Royal Society B 283: 20160553.
  • Nunes de Almeida, C. H. L., K. R. Zamudio, L. F. Toledo. 2016. The semiterrestrial tadpole of Cycloramphus rhyakonastes Heyer, 1983 (Anura, Cycloramphidae). Journal of Herpetology 50: 289-294.
  • Percino-Daniel, R., E. Recuero, E. Vazquez-Domínguez, K. R. Zamudio, G. Parra-Olea. 2016. All grown-up and nowhere to go: paedomorphosis and local adaptation in Ambystoma salamanders in the Cuenca Oriental of Mexico. Biological Journal of the Linnaean Society 118: 582-597.
  • Maguire, C., G. V. DiRenzo, T. S. Tunstall, C. R. Muletz, K. R. Zamudio, and K. R. Lips. 2016. Dead or alive? Viability of chytrid zoospores shed from live amphibian hosts. Diseases of Aquatic Organisms 119: 179-187.
  • Savage, A. E. and K. R. Zamudio. 2016. Adaptive tolerance to a pathogenic fungus drives major histocompatibility complex evolution in natural amphibian populations. Proceedings of the Royal Society B 283: 20153115.
  • Becker, C. G., D. Rodriguez, A. V. Longo, L. F. Toledo, C. F. B. Haddad, K. R. Zamudio. 2016. Deforestation, host community structure, and amphibian disease risk. Basic and Applied Ecology 17: 72-80.
  • Stewart, K. A., J. D. Austin, K. R. Zamudio, S. C. Lougheed. 2016. Contact zone dynamics during early stages of speciation in a chorus frog (Pseudacris crucifer). Heredity 116: 239-247.
  • Bovo, R. P., D. V. Andrade, L. F. Toledo, A. V. Longo, D. Rodriguez, C. F. B. Haddad, K. R. Zamudio, C. G. Becker. 2016. Physiological responses of Brazilian amphibians to an enzootic infection of the chytrid fungus Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis. Diseases of Aquatic Organisms 117: 245-252.
  • Lambertini, C., C. G. Becker, T. S. Jenkinson, D. Rodriguez, D. da Silva Leite, T. Y. James, K. R. Zamudio, L. F. Toledo. 2016. Local phenotypic variation in amphibian-killing fungus predicts infection dynamics. Fungal Ecology 20: 15-21.