Hopkins, Melanie main content.

Melanie Hopkins


Assistant Curator, Invertebrate Paleontology, Division of Paleontology
Assistant Professor, Richard Gilder Graduate School

Curriculum Vitae (short version)


  • University of Chicago, Ph.D., 2010
  • Stanford University, B.S., 2002

Research Interests

Dr. Hopkins’s research focuses on the study of morphological evolution in the fossil record. She is interested in the quantification and analysis of complex morphology; analysis of within-lineage tempo and mode of evolution; the influence of covariation and ontogenetic variation on the long-term evolution of lineages; the interaction between morphological change and environmental change; and the importance of scale and hierarchy in understanding long-term patterns of evolutionary change and the processes underlying them.

Dr. Hopkins’s taxonomic interest lies with arthropods. Most of her research focuses on the paleobiology and early evolutionary history of trilobites, but she has also studied variation in extant fiddler crabs. Her research makes use of a variety of quantitative methods, including geometric morphometrics, phylogenetic comparative methods, and time series analysis. Many projects are specimen based and rely on the extensive use of museum and new field collections. Other projects have made use of community databases, such as the Paleobiology Database. She is active in field work, particularly the United States and Scandinavia.


  • Hunt, G, Hopkins, M.J., and Lidgard, S., 2015, Simple versus complex models of trait evolution, and stasis as a response to environmental change, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences USA, v. 112, no. 16, p. 4885-4890.
  • Hopkins, M. J., and Smith, A. B., 2015, Dynamic evolutionary change in post-Paleozoic echinoids, and the importance of scale when interpreting rates of evolution: Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences USA, v. 112, no. 2, p. 3758-3763.
  • Lidgard, S., and Hopkins, M. J., 2015, Stasis, in Losos, J. B., ed., Oxford Bibliographies on Evolutionary Biology: New York, Oxford University Press. Doi:10.1093/OBO/9780199941728-0067.
  • Hopkins, M.J., and Lidgard, S., in press, Fossil species lineages and their defining traits—taxonomic usefulness and evolutionary modes. In Allmon, W.D., and Yacobucci, M.M. (eds.), Species and Speciation in the Fossil Record
  • Hopkins, M.J., 2014, Environmental patterning of trilobite morphological disparity. Paleobiology 40:352-373.
  • Hopkins, M.J., Simpson, C., and Kiessling, W., 2014, Differential niche dynamics among major marine invertebrate clades, Ecology Letters 17: 314-323. doi:10.1111/ele.12232.
  • Hampton, K.R. Hopkins, M.J., McNamara, J.C., Thurman, C.L., 2014, Intraspecific variation in carapace morphology among eight Species of Fiddler Crabs (Genus Uca) from the  Atlantic coast of Brazil. Aquatic Biology 20: 53-67. doi:10.3354/ab00545.
  • Seddon, A.W.R., +68 others, including Hopkins, M.J., 2014, Looking forward through the past. Identification of fifty priority research questions in palaeoecology. Journal of Ecology 102: 256-267. doi:10.1111/1365-2745.12195.
  • Wieman, A.C., Berendzen, P.B., Hampton, K., Jang, J., Thurman, C.L., Hopkins, M.J., Jurgeson, J., McNamara, J.C., 2014, Panmictic fiddler crabs along the coast of Brazil? Investigating the effects of divergent ocean currents and planktonic larvae on the genetic and morphological variation in Ucamaracoani. Marine Biology 161: 173-185. doi:10.1007/s00227-013-2327-0.
  • Hopkins, M.J., 2013, Decoupling of taxomonic diversity and morphological disparity during decline of the Cambrian trilobite family Pterocephaliidae. Journal of Evolutionary Biology 26: 1665-1676. doi:10.1111/jeb.12164.
  • Korn, D., Hopkins, M.J., and Walton, S.A., 2013, Extinction space—a method for the quantification and classification of changes in morphospace across extinction boundaries. Evolution 67: 2795-2810.
  • Hopkins, M.J., and Lidgard, S., 2012, Evolutionary mode varies amongst morphological traits in fossil species lineages. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, v. 109, p. 20520-20525.
  • Hopkins, M.J., 2011, How species longevity, intraspecific morphological variation, and geographic range size are related: a comparison using late Cambrian trilobites. Evolution, v. 65, p. 3252-3273.
  • Gerber, S., and Hopkins, M.J., 2011, Mosaic heterochrony and evolutionary modularity: The trilobite genus Zacanthopsis as a case study. Evolution, v. 65, p. 3241-3252.
  • Hopkins, M.J., 2011, Species-level phylogenetic analysis of the Pterocephaliidae (Trilobita) from the Great Basin, western USA.  Journal of Paleontology, v. 85, p. 1128-1153.
  • Hopkins, M.J., and Thurman, C.L., 2010, The geographic structure of morphological variation in eight species of fiddler crabs (Ocypodidae: genus Uca) from the eastern United States and Mexico. Biological Journal of the Linnean Society, v. 100, p. 248-270.

Teaching Experience

Courses Taught

  • Co-instructor, “RGGS Comparative Biology Seminar Series”, 2014-2015
  • Co-instructor, “Introduction to Morphometrics”, RGGS 2015
  • Guest lecturer, “Evolution”, AMNH RGGS 2014-15
  • Co-instructor, “Quantitative Methods in Paleobiology” University of Erlangen-Nürnberg, 2013; Museum für Naturkunde, 2012
  • Guest lecturer, “Earth History”, Museum für Naturkunde Berlin, 2012

External Links