Research Theme

  • Climate, Carbon & Geobiology

Research Discipline

  • Paleontology/Geobiology

I am an evolutionary paleobiologist. I am broadly interested in evaluating macroevolutionary patterns found in extant clades and their underlying mechanisms. A focus on macroevolution, necessarily requires an in-depth and critical understanding of the fossil record of extant groups. My research focuses on modes of evolution, speciation, and biogeographic distributions of taxa. At present, I am evaluating Bayesian statistical methods for, reconstructing phylogeny, understanding mosaic evolution, and evaluating the impact of systematic bias in conducting morphology-based phylogenetic reconstructions. Further, I maintain an active research interest in evaluating inter-specific and intra-specific variation in discontinuous (discreet) characters. By evaluating discreet morphological variation (i.e., polymorphism), I am attempting to elucidate how variation impacts phylogenetic reconstructions and interpretations of modes of evolution (e.g., anagensis, cladogensis, or budding cladogensis).

My thesis work has: focused on generating a better understanding of the fossil record of extant Testudinoid turtles, by describing a new taxon from the Paleogene of west Texas, providing a larger and more complete phylogenetic analysis of Testudinoid turtles using a total-evidence (morphology + molecular data) approach, and evaluating the impact of using certain skeletal regions for reconstruction phylogeny using Emydid turtles as an exemplar group.

Additional work includes: Evaluating skeletal variation in extant and fossil Emydid turtles and application of mammalian biogeographic rules to extant turtle distributions.

If you have any questions, please feel free to email me at RBurroughs@utexas.edu.

Current Research Projects

Exploring the impact of anatomical partitions and mosaic evolution on phylogenetic estimations

Generic level morphology and molecular phylogeny of Testudinoid turtles

Description of new fossil functional box turtles from the Eocene/Oligocene boundary of west Texas

Skeletal variation in extant and extinct populations of Emydid turtles

Student Research Award - Texas Academy of Science (2012 - 2012)

Ernest L. Lundelius Fellowship for Research in Vertebrate Paleontology - Jackson School of Geosciences (2011 - 2011)

Undergraduate Research Fellowship - The University of Texas at Austin (2010 - 2010)

Graduate Student Member, Development Committee, Society of Vertebrate Paleontology (2012)

Student Director, Board of Directors, Texas Academy of Science (2012)

Graduate Student Member, Strategic Development Committee, Texas Academy of Science (2011 - 2012)

Exploring and evaluating the impact of anatomical partitions on morphology based phylogenetic analyses, Society of Vertebrate Paleontology, Raleigh, North Carolina (2012)

New fossil box turtles from the Paleogene of west Texas: A new taxon with critical insights into the evolutionary history of box turtles, Society of Vertebrate Paleontology, Las Vegas, Nevada (2011)

Morphological variation in the carapace and plastron of Terrapene coahuila Schmidt and Owens, 1944, The Gaffney Turtle Symposium, Drumheller, Alberta (2009)