R. Alexander Pyron

R. Alexander Pyron

Robert F. Griggs Associate Professor of Biology
Lisner Hall 414
Phone: 202-994-6616
[email protected]

Systematics of reptiles and amphibians; Theory and practice of statistical phylogenetics.

Current Research

My research focuses on theoretical and applied methods in statistical phylogenetics, using reptiles and amphibians as model groups. In an organismal context, I study the factors that drive speciation at local geographic scales, and the evolutionary forces responsible for broad-scale macroecological patterns in the distribution and diversity of extant species. I am also interested in statistical and analytical methodologies for divergence time estimation and phylogenetic inference using multi-locus datasets.

Statement on Biodiversity Conservation


B.S., Piedmont College, 2004.
PhD., MS., MPhil., The City of New York University, 2009


Recent Publications (2016-Present):

Arteaga, A., Salazar-Venezuela, D., Mebert, K., Peñafiel, N., Aguiar, G., Sánchez-Nivicela, J.C., Pyron, R.A., Colston, T.J., Cisneros-Heredia, D.F., Yánez-Muñoz, M.H., Venegas, P.J., Guayasamin, J.M., and O. Torres-Carvajal. 2018. Systematics of snail eating snakes (Serpentes, Dipsadini), with the description of five new species from Ecuador and Peru. ZooKeys 76:79-147.

Pyron, R.A. 2018. A 21st-century vision for neotropical snake systematics. Revista Latinoamericana Herpetologia1(1):57-62.

Pyron, R.A. 2018. Global amphibian declines have winners and losers. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences USA 115(15):3739-3741.

Jetz, W., andR.A. Pyron. 2018. The interplay of past diversification and evolutionary isolation with present imperilment across the amphibian tree of life. Nature Ecology & Evolution 2(2018): 850-858.

Guedes, T.B., Sawaya, R.J., Zizka, A., Laffan, S., Faurby, S., Pyron, R.A.,Bérnils, R.S., Jansen, M., Passos, P., Prudente, A.L.C., Cisneros-Heredia, D.F., Braz, H.B., Nogueira, C. de C., and A. Antonelli. 2018. Patterns, biases, and prospects in the distribution and diversity of Neotropical snakes. Global Ecology and Biogeography27(1):14-21.

Wickramasinghe, L.J.M., Vidanapathirana, D.R., Kandambi, H.K.D., Pyron, R.A.,and N. Wickramasinghe. 2017. A new species of Aspidura(Serpentes: Natricinae) from Sri Pada sanctuary (Peak Wilderness), Sri Lanka. Zootaxa4347(2):275-292.

Tucker, D.B., Hedges, S.B., Colli, G.R., Pyron, R.A., and J.W. Sites, Jr. 2017. Genomic timetree and historical biogeography of Caribbean island Ameivalizards (Pholidoscelis: Teiidae). Ecology and Evolution 2017(7):7080-7090.

Guayasamin, J.M., Hutter, C.R., Tapia, E.E., Culebras, J., Peñafiel, N., Pyron, R.A.,Morochz, C., Funk, W.C., and A.F. Arteaga-Navarro. 2017. Diversification of the rainfrog Pristimantis ornatissimus in the lowlands and Andean foothills of Ecuador. PLoS One 12(3:e0172615):1–21.

(84) Chen, X., Lemmon, A.R., Lemmon, E.M., Pyron, R.A., and F.T. Burbrink. 2017. Using phylogenomics to understand the link between biogeographic origins and regional diversification in ratsnakes. Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution 111(2017):206-218.

Pyron, R.A., and M. Laurin. 2017. Editorial: Dating the Tree of Life. Frontiers in Evolutionary and Population Genetics 5:42.

Pyron, R.A. 2017. Comment (Case 3688) — On the proposed suppression of Charinidae Gray, 1849 (Reptilia, Squamata, Serpentes): a counter-application. Bulletin of Zoological Nomenclature73(2–4):124-126.

Pyron, R.A.2017. Novel approaches for phylogenetic inference from morphological data and total-evidence dating in squamate reptiles (lizards, snakes, and amphisbaenians). Systematic Biology66(1):38-86.

Sayyed, A., Pyron, R.A., and N. Dahanukar. 2016. Cnemaspis flaviventralis, a new species of day gecko (Squamata: Gekkonidae) from the Western Ghats of Maharashtra, India. Journal of Threatened Taxa8(14):9616-9629.

Pyron, R.A., Ganesh, S.R., Sharma, V., Sayyed, A., Wallach, V., and R. Somaweera. 2016. A catalogue and systematic overview of the shield-tailed snakes (Serpentes: Uropeltidae). Zoosystema38(4):453-506.

Tonini, J.F.R., Beard, K.H., Barbosa, R.F., Jetz, W., and R.A. Pyron.2016. Fully-sampled phylogenies of squamates reveal evolutionary patterns in threat status. Biological Conservation204(A):23-31.

Ceriaco, L.M.P., Gutierrez, E.E., Dubois, A., & 490 additional authors listed in alphabetical order, including Pyron, R.A. 2016. Photography-based taxonomy is inadequate, unnecessary, and potentially harmful for biological sciences. Zootaxa4196(3):435-445

Pyron, R.A., Arteaga, A., Echevarria, L.Y., and O. Torres-Carvajal. 2016. A revision and key for the tribe Diaphorolepidini (Serpentes: Dipsadidae) and checklist for the genus Synophis. Zootaxa4171(2):293-320.

Murphy, J.C., Jowers, M.J., Lehtinen, R.M., Charles, S., Colli, G.R., Peres Jr., A., Hendry, C.R., and R.A. Pyron.2016. Cryptic, sympatric diversity in tegu lizards of the Tupinambis teguixin group (Squamata, Sauria, Teiidae) and the description of three new species. PLoS ONE11(8):e0158542.

Tucker, D.B., Colli, G.R., Giugliano, L.G., Hedges, S.B., Hendry, C.R., Lemmon, E.M., Lemmon, A.R., Sites, J.W. Jr., and R.A. Pyron. 2016. Methodological congruence in phylogenomic analyses with morphological support for teiid lizards (Sauria: Teiidae). Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution 103 (2016):75-84.

Pyron, R.A.,Hsieh, F.W., Lemmon, A.R., Lemmon, E.M., and C.R. Hendry. 2016. Integrating phylogenomic and morphological data to assess candidate species-delimitation models in Brown and Red-bellied snakes (Storeria). Zoological Journal of the Linnaean Society177(4):937-949.

Pyron, R.A.2016. Niche Evolution. InOxford Bibliographies in Evolutionary Biology (J. B. Losos, ed.). Oxford University Press, Oxford, UK. DOI:10.1093/OBO/9780199941728-0075.

Arteaga, A.F., Pyron, R.A., Peñafiel, N., Culebras, J., Bustamante, L., Yánez-Muñoz, M.H., and J.M. Guayasamin. 2016. Comparative phylogeography reveals cryptic diversity and repeated patterns of cladogenesis for amphibians and reptiles in northwestern Ecuador. PLoS ONE11(4):e0151746.

Feldman, A., Pyron, R.A., Sabath, N., Mayrose, I., and S. Meiri. 2016. Body sizes and diversification rates of lizards, snakes, amphisbaenians and the tuatara. Global Ecology and Biogeography25(2):187-197.

Classes Taught

BISC 6211 - Biogeography

BISC 6214 - The Phylogenetic Basis of Comparative Biology