Chris Feldman posing for a photo in front of a group of taxidermy.

Chris Feldman

Curator of Vertebrates and Associate Museum Director | Associate Professor


Current projects include comparative phylogeography, particularly of vertebrates in the western US, phylogenetics of various reptile lineages, population genetics of several local vertebrate species to establish population connectivity and adaptive potential, coevolution between garter snakes and newts, speciation and isolating mechanisms in several local reptile species, assessing biogeographic “rules” in vertebrates, and examining patterns of morphological and molecular evolution and their underlying causes.

Evolution, Ecology and Conservation Biology of Reptiles and Amphibians

We are interested in a broad array of evolutionary, ecological, and conservation topics, primarily in reptiles and amphibians, ranging from simple questions of diet differences between sympatric lizards, to patterns of molecular evolution in specific snake proteins. In general, our research program combines traditional field studies (i.e. collection of specimens and associated data in the wild) with emerging molecular genetic techniques (i.e. DNA sequence data, DNA fragment data, gene expression data) to address fundamental questions in these vertebrate systems. We typically analyze these data in a phylogenetic framework which allows inferences about patterns of adaptive change, molecular evolution, fluctuations in population structure through time, and can even identify unique evolutionary lineages worthy of conservation attention.


  • Feldman, C.R., Brodie, E.D. Jr., Brodie, E.D., III& M.E. Pfrender. 2012. Constraint shapes convergence in tetrodotoxin resistant sodium channels of snakes. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences USA 109: 4556-4561.
  • Feldman, C.R., Flores-Villela, O. & T.J. Papenfuss. 2011. Phylogeny, biogeography, and display evolution in the tree and brush lizard genus Urosaurus (Squamata: Phrynosomatidae). Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution. 61: 714-725.
  • Forister, M.L. & C.R. Feldman. 2011. Phylogenetic cascades and the origins of tropical diversity. Biotropica 43: 270-278.
  • Angielczyk, K.D., Feldman, C.R. & G. Miller. 2011. Adaptive evolution of plastron shape in emydine turtles. Evolution 65: 377-394.
  • Feldman, C.R. & R.F. Hoyer. 2010. A new species of snake from California and Oregon in the genus Contia (Squamata: Colubridae). Copeia 2010: 255-268.
  • Feldman, C.R., Brodie, E.D. Jr., Brodie, E.D., III& M.E. Pfrender. 2009. The evolutionary origins of beneficial alleles during the repeated adaptation of garter snakes to deadly prey. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences USA 106: 13415-13420.
  • Feldman, C.R. & G.S. Spicer. 2006. Comparative phylogeography of woodland reptiles in California: repeated patterns of cladogenesis and population expansion. Molecular Ecology 15: 2201-2222.
  • Ashton K.G & C.R. Feldman. 2003. Bergmann's rule in non-avian reptiles: turtles follow it, lizards and snakes reverse it. Evolution 57: 1151-1163
  • Feldman, C.R. & J.F. Parham. 2002. Molecular phylogenetics of emydine turtles: taxonomic revision and the evolution of shell kinesis. Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution 22: 388-398.
  • Parham, J.F., Simison, W.B., Kozak, K.H., Feldman, C.R. & S. Haitao. 2001. New Chinese turtles: endangered or invalid? A reassessment of two species using mitochondrial DNA, allozyme electrophoresis and known locality specimens. Animal Conservation 4: 357-367.


  • Ph.D., Biology, Utah State University, 2008
  • M.A., Ecology and Systematic Biology, San Francisco State University, 2000
  • B.A., Integrative Biology (Minor Entomology, Minor Forestry & Resource Management), University of California, Berkeley, 1996