Janzen Lab of Ecological and Evolutionary Herpetology

paint turtle

We are a research facility at Iowa State University run by Dr. Fredric Janzen, a professor in the Department of Ecology, Evolution, and Organismal Biology.

Our research interests involve the study of ecology and evolution, including mechanistic work at the molecular and organismal levels, field studies that document the importance of phenotypic variation, and a comparative view of the long-term consequences of this variation. To do so, we often integrate molecular and quantitative genetic techniques with experimental laboratory and field studies, largely focusing on the impact of environmental and genetic factors in mediating the expression of physiological, behavioral, and life-history traits. Using these conceptual approaches in concert with comparative techniques enables us to assess important biological issues, including

  1. the biological significance of diverse sex-determining mechanisms,
  2. the impacts of environmental and genetic factors on variation in early life-history traits, and
  3. the current and historical genetic and demographic structure of populations, with an emphasis on elucidating adaptive processes and solving conservation concerns.

Our focal study organisms are usually reptiles, especially turtles, because they exhibit tremendous diversity in sex-determining mechanisms (including temperature-dependent sex determination) and in their life histories, rendering them excellent subjects for our topics of research interest. A number of students work under Dr. Janzen's direction on projects, such as

  1. molecular phylogenetics, phylogeography, and conservation genetics of reptiles, including ApaloneGraptemysHeterodon, and Emydoidea,
  2. molecular ecology of mating systems in natural populations of turtles,
  3. population dynamic responses of turtles (e.g., Chrysemys) to exploitation by humans,
  4. experimental field studies of environmental causes of susceptibility to predation of neonatal reptiles (e.g., Trachemys),
  5. experimental evolution of sex ratio and sex-determining mechanisms in the nematode C. elegans, and (of course)
  6. ecology and evolution of sex ratio and sex-determining mechanisms in natural populations of turtles, including assessments of inheritance of these traits in nature and their sensitivity to climate change and human habitat modification.

National Science Foundation
National Science Foundation

Most of the research described herein and the development and maintenance of this and the associated web pages has been graciously supported by past (DEB-9629529, DEB-9741936, DEB-9841830, DEB-9941689, IBN-0080194, DEB-0089680, IBN-0212935, and DEB-0640932) and present (DEB-1242510, IOS-1257857, and supplemental) NSF grants. Any opinions, findings, and conclusions or recommendations expressed in this material are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of the National Science Foundation

So we should study every creature without disdain, for each will reveal to us something natural and beautiful. (From Parts of Animals by Aristotle.)