Christopher John Raxworthy
Associate Curator (Herpetology)
Ph.D., The Open University, Milton Keynes, England, 1989 "Evolution of Courtship Behavior and Sexual Dimorphism in Salamandrids"
Dr. Raxworthy, who joined the Museum in 2000, has been studying reptiles and amphibians in Madagascar since 1985. Madagascar is renowned both for its extraordinary biodiversity and for its numerous endemic species. Conservationists working there face many challenges, and accurate information regarding species and habitat is crucial in facilitating their efforts.
When he began his research in association with colleagues, only about 400 species of Malagasy reptiles and amphibians had been identified, and the information available regarding these species was often inaccurate or incomplete. Since then Dr. Raxworthy has found (and is now describing) more than 150 new species and has added a wealth of information to the database on known species. Currently, his research is focused on chameleon systematics. This project includes field surveys in remote, mountainous areas of northern Madagascar. Many of these areas have never been previously explored or surveyed.
Dr. Raxworthy also has recently conducted fieldwork in Vietnam, Ghana, and Mali. Africa and Asia represent important areas for making comparisons to Madagascar, because of their shared geological history, associated with the ancient southern super-continent Gondwanaland. As this landmass broke up-starting around 160 million years ago-Madagascar and India carried away their own parts of the Gondwanan wildlife, which has since evolved in isolation on the island of Madagascar. Dr. Raxworthy is searching for these ancient historical links using modern groups of frogs and reptiles.
His broader research interests include the applications of Geographic Information Systems (GIS) for identifying conservation priorities, and exploring patterns of speciation and endemism in Madagascar. The protected area network of Madagascar is still being expanded, but there is an urgent need for more survey effort to be made in remote regions that currently have unknown conservation potential.
RECENT SIGNIFICANT PUBLICATIONS
Raselimanana, A. P., C. J. Raxworthy, and R. A. Nussbaum. "A Revision of the Dwarf Zonosaurus Boulenger (Reptilia: Squamata: Cordylidae) from Madagascar Including the Description of Three New Species." Scientific Papers, Natural History Museum, The University of Kansas 18 (2000): 1-16.
Raxworthy, C. J., and D. K. Attaquayefio. "Herpetofaunal Communities at Muni Lagoon in Ghana." Biodiversity and Conservation 9 (2000): 501-510.
Raxworthy, C. J., and R. A. Nussbaum. "Extinction and Extinction Vulnerability of Amphibians and Reptiles in Madagascar." Amphibian and Reptile Conservation 2, no. 1 (2000): 15-23.
Raselimanana, A. P., C. J. Raxworthy, and R. A. Nussbaum. "Herpetofaunal Species Diversity and Elevational Distribution Within the Parc National de Marojejy." Fieldiana Zoology New Series 97 (2000): 157-174.
Richards, C. M., R. A. Nussbaum, and C. J. Raxworthy. "Phylogenetic Relationships Within the Madagascar Boophids and Mantellids as Elucidated by Mitochondrial Ribosomal Genes." African Journal of Herpetology 49, no. 1 (2000): 23-32.
Raxworthy, C. J., and R. A. Nussbaum. "Biogeographic Patterns of Reptiles in Eastern Madagascar." In Natural Change and Human Impact in Madagascar, ed. S. M. Goodman and B. Patterson, 124-141. Washington, D.C.: Smithsonian Institution Press, 1997.
Raxworthy, C. J., and R. A. Nussbaum. "Montane Amphibian and Reptile Communities in Madagascar." Conservation Biology 10 (1996): 750-756.
Raxworthy, C. J., and R. A. Nussbaum. "Systematics, Speciation, and Biogeography of the Dwarf Chameleons (Brookesia Gray; Reptilia; Sauria; Chamaeleontidae) of Northern Madagascar." Journal of Zoology London 235 (1995): 525-558.
EDITORIAL AND ADJUNCT APPOINTMENTS
POSTDOCTORAL FELLOWS, GRADUATE STUDENTS, AND SCIENTIFIC ASSISTANTS