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Evolution | Herpetology | Conservation | Genomics

Lisa N. Barrow, Ph.D. (she/her)

Division of Amphibians & Reptiles, Museum of Southwestern Biology
Department of Biology, University of New Mexico
Assistant Professor & Curator

  We are part of the University of New Mexico Biology Department and the Division of Amphibians & Reptiles at the Museum of Southwestern Biology.


  Our research combines fieldwork, natural history collections, ecological databases, genomic data, and computational analyses spanning phylogenetics and population genetics to investigate how species respond to global change. Studies in the lab tend to focus on four main themes:

(1) comparative studies of population genomic variation across amphibian and reptile species,

(2) evolution and ecology of host-parasite interactions,

(3) the integration of genomic methods with natural history collections, and

(4) the development and application of genetic tools to species of conservation need.

Recent Publications


Barrow LN, McNew SM, Mitchell N, Galen SC, Lutz HL, Skeen H, Valqui T, Weckstein JD, Witt CC.  2019.  Deeply conserved susceptibility in a multi-host, multi-parasite system.  Ecology Letters 22:987–998.

  This project resulted from an extensive collaboration between researchers at the Museum of Southwestern Biology, the Field Museum, and el Centro de Ornitología y Biodiversidad. We analyzed a diverse host-parasite assemblage sampled along elevational gradients in Peru (nearly 4,000 birds from 523 host species!) and show that susceptibility to avian malaria parasites is deeply conserved across the avian phylogeny. Host phylogeny was important even after accounting for a broad suite of environmental, temporal, and life history predictors of infection, suggesting that variation in susceptibility among hosts is related to evolutionarily conserved aspects of avian host defense.

Barrow LN, Allen JM, Huang X, Bensch S, Witt CC.  2019.  Genomic sequence capture of haemosporidian parasites: Methods and prospects for enhanced study of host-parasite evolution.  Molecular Ecology Resources 19:400–410.

  As an NSF postdoc (Research Using Biological Collections program), I developed methods to "capture" parasite genomic data from bird tissue samples. This technique enables sequencing of hundreds of parasite genetic markers from birds with relatively low parasite intensity (% of infected blood cells, or parasitemia). These results are exciting because low-level infections are common in wild bird populations, which has made it challenging to obtain genomic sequences from these parasites. This genome-scale data helps to resolve parasite phylogenetic relationships and can enhance our understanding of parasite speciation, biogeography, and host associations.


Barrow LN, Lemmon AR, Lemmon EM.  2018.  Targeted sampling and target capture:  assessing phylogeographic concordance with genome-wide data.  Systematic Biology 67:979–996.

  My Ph.D. work culminated in this genome-wide investigation of comparative phylogeography in the Southeastern U.S. Coastal Plain. Four co-distributed frog species exhibit largely discordant phylogeographic patterns quantified at multiple levels (across loci, species, and well-described biogeographic features). Limited concordance with biogeographic features in this well-studied region likely reflect the influence of a complex climatic history on taxa in this system.

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