Biology ETDs

Publication Date

Spring 5-2021


The American Southwest is a region where many biomes converge, harboring a wide variety of habitats ranging from desert to alpine environments. Habitat heterogeneity and the confluence of multiple species ranges make the American Southwest a biodiversity hotspot. Climate cycling throughout the Quaternary has driven the dynamics of changes in species’ ranges that are recorded by genetic signatures. For example, range expansion may lead to secondary contact between previously isolated populations or species. Contact can result in multiple evolutionary outcomes, including hybridization or the reinforcement and maintenance of independent lineages. I used multi-locus species tree methods to re-examine the nominal taxonomy of woodrats (genus Neotoma) in the context of historic episodes of hybridization and also used traditional phylogeographic methods coupled with distribution modeling techniques to investigate climate change as a driver of diversification in woodrats. My findings shed light on patterns of evolution in a geographically complex region that has undergone multiple periods of warming and cooling. The dynamic evolutionary history of woodrats provides a framework for understanding how climate and species interactions shape the diversity and geographic distributions of species.



Document Type


Degree Name


Level of Degree


Department Name

UNM Biology Department

First Committee Member (Chair)

Joseph A. Cook

Second Committee Member

Jason L. Malaney

Third Committee Member

Helen J. Wearing