Robert S. Voss
Associate Curator (Mammalogy)
Ph.D., University of Michigan, 1983 "Comparative Morphology and Systematics of Ichthyomyine Rodents (Muroidea)"
Dr. Voss studies the systematics and biogeography of neotropical mammals that inhabit moist-forest habitats in Amazonia and the Andes. He is actively involved in long-term revisionary taxonomic research on several clades that have radiated extensively in lowland and montane rainforests, including didelphid marsupials, caviomorph rodents (erethizontids and dasyproctids), and murid rodents. For several of these groups, he is collaborating with molecular researchers in phylogenetic studies that are designed to provide a stable basis for higher-level classifications, historical biogeography, and comparative analyses of ecobehavioral adaptations. Separate and combined analyses of nuclear exon sequences and morphological data, for example, have recently provided novel insights into didelphid marsupial relationships that underscore the importance of using new characters and denser taxon sampling to resolve longstanding systematic problems.
Recent field projects led by Dr. Voss have focused on intensive mammalian-faunal inventory efforts at two rain forest localities selected a priori to represent opposite extremes of predicted species richness and maximal complementarity within the Amazonian biome. The first site to be sampled was Paracou, French Guiana, where multiyear sampling of the bat and nonvolant faunas resulted in a large collection with unprecedented numbers of sympatric species. Comprehensive taxonomic analyses of that collection documented patterns of endemicity and faunal turnover that resemble those previously remarked for plants, birds, and squamate reptiles, suggesting common ecological or historical causes of biotic assembly. Inventory fieldwork is still in progress at a second site, on the Rio Galvez in northeastern Peru. Preliminary results of that research suggest substantially higher local diversity than that found in French Guiana, together with an almost complete species-level turnover in the small nonvolant fauna. Collaboration with the local indigenous culture is an important aspect of the fieldwork at this locality.
RECENT SIGNIFICANT PUBLICATIONS
Voss, R. S., and M. N. F. da Silva. "Revisionary Notes on Neotropical Porcupines; A Review of the Coendou vestitus Group With Descriptions of Two New Species From Amazonia." American Museum Novitates (submitted/2001).
Voss, R. S., D. P. Lunde, and N. B. Simmons. "The Mammals of Paracou, French Guiana: A Neotropical Lowland Rainforest Fauna. Part 2. Nonvolant Species." Bulletin of the American Museum of Natural History 263 (2001): 236 pp.
Jansa, S. A., and R. S. Voss. "Phylogenetic Studies on Didelphid Marsupials I. Introduction and Preliminary Results From Nuclear IRBP Gene Sequences." Journal of Mammal Evolution 7 (2000): 43-77.
Fleck, D. W., R. S. Voss, and J. L. Patton. "Biological Basis of Saki (Pithecia) Folk Species Recognized by the Matses Indians of Amazonian Peru." International Journal of Primatology 20 (1999): 1005-1028.
Voss, R. S. "Holochilus Brandt, 1835, Proechimys J. A. Allen, 1899, and Trinomys Thomas, 1921 (Mammalia, Rodentia): Proposed Conservation by the Designation of H. sciureus Wagner, 1842 as the Type Species of Holochilus." Bulletin of Zoological Nomenclature 56 (1999): 255-261.
Simmons, N. B., and R. S. Voss. "The Mammals of Paracou, French Guiana: A Neotropical Lowland Rainforest Fauna. Part 1. Bats." Bulletin of the American Museum of Natural History 237 (1998): 219 pp.
Voss, R. S., and R. Angermann. "Revisionary Notes on Neotropical Porcupines. 1. Type Material Described by Olfers (1818) and Kuhl (1820) in the Berlin Zoological Museum." American Museum Novitates 3214 (1997): 44 pp.
Voss, R. S., and L. H. Emmons. "Mammalian Diversity in Neotropical Lowland Rainforests: A Preliminary Assessment." Bulletin of the American Museum of Natural History 230 (1996): 115 pp.
POSTDOCTORAL FELLOWS AND GRADUATE STUDENTS