Helgen, Kristofer M. main content.

Kristofer M. Helgen


Research Associate Vertebrate Zoology, Mammalogy



Ph.D. (Zoology): University of Adelaide, 2007
B.A. (Biology): Harvard University, 2001

Research Interests

In my fieldwork and museum travels around the world, I have discovered approximately 100 species of mammals previously unknown to science (about 2% of the global mammal fauna), 23 of which have so far been characterized in published or pending journal articles. Describing this wealth of overlooked biodiversity forms the core of my research program. My research links specimen-based investigations of biological inventory, taxonomy, and phylogenetics to questions in comparative ecomorphology and historical biogeography, with a special focus on the Australo-Papuan and Indo-Malayan regions. I work with similar fluency on the taxonomy of essentially all groups of terrestrial mammals, and my interests and expertise extend to applications in conservation biology, wildlife management, and host-parasite and disease interactions (a collection of impacts I categorize as "applied systematics"). In my systematic and biogeographic research I collaborate especially with scientists and students in biologically megadiverse countries and with many of the foremost mammalogical taxonomists in the global arena.

My research also addresses major conceptual issues in the evolution of modern mammal faunas, such as the interrelationships of the placental mammal orders, the phylogenetic position of Primates among mammals, the nature and determinants of late Quaternary and modern extinctions, and the evolution and ecology of body size in vertebrates. In these multidisciplinary efforts I profitably collaborate with paleontologists, ecologists, and molecular and genomic biologists.


Wilting, Andreas, Sollmann, Rahel, Meijaard, Erik, Helgen, Kristofer M. and Fickel, Jö 2012. Mentawai's endemic, relictual fauna: is it evidence for Pleistocene extinctions on Sumatra?. Journal of Biogeography,doi:10.1111/j.1365-2699.2012.02717.x
Mason, Victor C., Li, Gang, Helgen, Kristofer M. and Murphy, William J. 2011.Efficient cross-species capture hybridization and next-generation sequencing of mitochondrial genomes from noninvasively sampled museum specimens.Genome research, 21(10): 1695-1704. doi:10.1101/gr.120196.111
McDade, Lucinda A., Maddison, David R., Guralnick, Robert, Piwowar, Heather A., Jameson, Mary Liz, Helgen, Kristofer M., Herendeen, Patrick S., Hill, Andrew and Vis, Morgan L. 2011. Biology Needs a Modern Assessment System for Professional Productivity. Bioscience, 61(8): 619-625.doi:10.1525/bio.2011.61.8.8
Helgen, Kristofer M. 2011. The Mammal Family Tree. Science, 334(6055): 458-459. doi:10.1126/science.1214544
Miller, Webb, Hayes, Vanessa M., Ratan, Aakrosh, Petersen, Desiree C., Wittekindt, Nicola E., Miller, Jason, Walenz, Brian, Knight, James, Qi, Ji, Zhao, Fangqing, Wang, Qingyu, Bedoya-Reina, Oscar C., Katiyar, Neerja, Tomsho, Lynn P., McClellan Kasson, Lindsay, Hardie, Rae-Anne, Woodbridge, Paula, Tindall, Elizabeth A., Bertelsen, Mads Frost, Dixon, Dale, Pyecroft, Stephen, Helgen, Kristofer M., Lesk, Arthur M., Pringle, Thomas H., Patterson, Nick, et al 2011. Genetic diversity and population structure of the endangered marsupial Sarcophilus harrisii (Tasmanian devil). Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, 108(30): 12348-12353.doi:10.1073/pnas.1102838108
Asher, Robert J. and Helgen, Kristofer M. 2011. High level Mammalian taxonomy: a response to Hedges (2011). Zootaxa, 3092: 63-64.
Helgen, Kristofer M. and Opiang, Muse D. 2011. Notes on the high elevation mammal fauna of the Kaijende Highlands, Enga Province, Papua New Guinea.Rapid Assessment Program Bulletin of Biological Assessment, 60: 235-245.
Helgen, Kristofer M., Opiang, Muse D. and Thomas, William H. 2011. The mammal fauna of Wanakipa, Southern Highlands Province, Papua New Guinea. Rapid Assessment Program Bulletin of Biological Assessment, 60: 246-258.
Kawai, Kuniko and Helgen, Kristofer M. 2011. Rediscovering a specimen of Eptesicus nilsonii from Japan, which is preserved in Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History. Rishiri Kenkyu, 30: 89-92.
Goodman, S. M. and Helgen, Kristofer M. 2010. Species limits and distribution of the Malagasy carnivoran genus Eupleres (family Eupleridae). Mammalia, 74: 177-185.
Brooks, Thomas M. and Helgen, Kristofer M. 2010. A standard for species.Nature, 467: 540-541.
Helgen, Kristofer M. 2010. A megadiverse fauna revealed. Journal of Mammalian Evolution, 16: 145-147.
Aplin, K. P. and Helgen, Kristofer M. 2010. Quaternary murid rodents of Timor. Part I. New material of Coryphomys buehleri Schaub, 1937, and description of a second species of the genus. Bulletin of the American Museum of Natural History, 341: 1-80.
Helgen, Kristofer M., Leary, Tanya and Aplin, Kenneth P. 2010. A Review of Microhydromys (Rodentia: Murinae), with Description of a New Species from Southern New Guinea. American Museum Novitates, 3676: 1-22.
Asher, Robert and Helgen, Kristofer M. 2010. Nomenclature and placental mammal phylogeny. BioMed Central Evolutionary Biology, 10(1): 102
Aplin, K. P., Helgen, Kristofer M. and Lunde, D. P. 2010. A review ofPeroryctes broadbenti, the Giant Bandicoot of Papua New Guinea. American Museum Novitates, 3696: 1-41.
Helgen, Kristofer M., Kays, Roland W., Helgen, Lauren E., Tsuchiya-Jerep, Mirian T. N., Pinto, C. Miguel, Koepfli, Klaus-Peter, Eizirik, Eduardo and Maldonado, Jesús E. 2009. Taxonomic boundaries and geographic distributions revealed by an integrative systematic overview of the mountain coatis,Nasuella (Carnivora: Procyonidae). Small Carnivore Conservation, 41(1): 65-74.
Haussler, David, O'Brien, Stephen J., Ryder, Oliver A., Barker, F. Keith, Clamp, Michele, Crawford, Andrew J., Hanner, Robert, Hanotte, Olivier, Johnson, Warren E., McGuire, Jimmy A., Miller, Webb, Murphy, Robert W., Murphy, William J., Sheldon, Frederick H., Sinervo, Barry, Venkatesh, Byrappa, Wiley, Edward O., Allendorf, Fred W., Amato, George, Baker, C. Scott, Bauer, Aaron, Beja-Pereira, Albano, Bermingham, Eldredge, Bernardi, Giacomo, Bonvicino, Cibele R., et al 2009. Genome 10K: A Proposal to Obtain Whole-Genome Sequence for 10 000 Vertebrate Species. Journal of Heredity, 100(6): 659-674. doi:10.1093/jhered/esp086
Helgen, Kristofer M., Cole, F. Russell, Helgen, Lauren E. and Wilson, Don E.2009. Generic Revision in the Holarctic Ground Squirrel Genus Spermophilus.Journal of mammalogy, 90(2): 270-305.
Helgen, Kristofer M., Helgen, Lauren E. and Wilson, Don E. 2009. Pacific flying foxes (Mammalia: Chiroptera): Two new species of Pteropus from Samoa, probably extinct. American Museum Novitates, 3646: 1-37.
Miller, Webb, Drautz, Daniela I., Janecka, Jan E., Lesk, Arthur M., Ratan, Aakrosh, Tomsho, Lynn P., Packard, Mike, Zhang, Yeting, McClellan, Lindsay R., Qi, Ji, Zhao, Fangqing, Gilbert, M. Thomas P., Dalen, Love, Arsuaga, Juan Luis, Ericson, Per G. P., Huson, Daniel H., Helgen, Kristofer M., Murphy, William J., Gotherstrom, Anders and Schuster, Stephan C. 2009. The mitochondrial genome sequence of the Tasmanian tiger (Thylacinus cynocephalus). Genome research, 19(2): 213-220. doi:10.1101/gr.082628.108
Schipper, Jan, Helgen, Kristofer M., Belant, J. L., Gonzalez-Maya, Jose-Fernando, Eizirik, Eduardo and Tsuchiya-Jerep, Mirian T. N. 2009. Special Issue: The Americas. Small Carnivore Conservation, 41
Helgen, Kristofer M. and Helgen, Lauren E. 2009. Biodiversity and biogeography of the moss-mice of New Guinea: a taxonomic revision of Pseudohydromys (Muridae: Murinae). Bulletin of the American Museum of Natural History, 331: 230-313.
Schipper, J., Helgen, Kristofer M., Belant, J. L., Gonzalez-Maya, J., Eizirik, E. and Tsuchiya-Jerep, M. 2009. Small carnivores in the Americas: reflections, future research and conservation priorities. Small Carnivore Conservation, 41: 1-2.
Giannini, N. P., Almeida, F., Simmons, N. B. and Helgen, Kristofer M. 2008.The systematic position of Pteropus leucopterus and its bearing on the monophyly and relationships of Pteropus (Chiroptera: Pteropodidae). Acta Chiropterologica, 10(1): 11-20.
Schipper, Jan, Chanson, Janice S., Chiozza, Federica, Cox, Neil A., Hoffmann, Michael, Katariya, Vineet, Lamoreux, John, Rodrigues, Ana S. L., Stuart, Simon N., Temple, Helen J., Baillie, Jonathan, Boitani, Luigi, Lacher, Thomas E., Jr., Mittermeier, Russell A., Smith, Andrew T., Absolon, Daniel, Aguiar, John M., Amori, Giovanni, Bakkour, Noura, Baldi, Ricardo, Berridge, Richard J., Bielby, Jon, Black, Patricia Ann, Blanc, J. Julian, Brooks, Thomas M., et al2008. The Status of the World's Land and Marine Mammals: Diversity, Threat, and Knowledge. Science, 322(5899): 225-230. doi:10.1126/science.1165115
Janecka, Jan E., Helgen, Kristofer M., Lim, Norman T. -L, Baba, Minoru, Izawa, Masako, Boeadi and Murphy, William J. 2008. Evidence for multiple species of Sunda colugo. Current Biology, 18(21): R1001-R1002.
Amori, Giovanni, Gippoliti, S. and Helgen, Kristofer M. 2008. Diversity, distribution, and conservation of endemic island rodents. Quaternary International, 182: 6-15.
Wei, L., Han, N., Zhang, L., Helgen, Kristofer M., Parsons, S., Zhou, S. and Zhang, S. 2008. Wing morphology, echolocation calls, diet and emergence time of black-bearded tomb bats (Taphozous melanopogon, Emballonuridae) from south-west China. Acta Chiropterologica, 10(1): 51-59.
Helgen, Kristofer M., Maldonado, Jesús E., Wilson, Don E. and Buckner, S. D.2008. Molecular Confirmation of the Origin and Invasive Status of West Indian Raccoons. Journal of Mammalogy, 89(2): 282-291.
Helgen, Kristofer M. 2008. New Guinea as a Tropical Lens. Conservation Biology, 22(6): 1667-1668.
Musser, Guy G., Helgen, Kristofer M. and Lunde, Darrin P. 2008. Systematic review of New Guinea Leptomys (Muridae, Murinae) with descriptions of two new species. American Museum Novitates, 3624: 1-60.
Helgen, Kristofer M., Lim, N. T. -L and Helgen, Lauren E. 2008. The hog-badger is not an edentate: systematics and evolution of Arctonyx (Mammalia: Mustelidae). Zoological Journal of the Linnean Society, 154: 353-385.
Helgen, Kristofer M., Leary, T., Doria, G. and Amori, Giovanni 2008.Catalogue of Melanesian rodents in the Museum of Genova (Mammalia: Rodentia). Annali del Museo Civico di Storia Naturale G.Doria, 99: 653-686.
Meiri, S., Meijaard, E., Wich, S. A., Groves, C. P. and Helgen, Kristofer M.2008. Mammals of Borneo - small size on a large island. Journal of Biogeography, 35(6): 1087-1094.

Complete List of Helgen's Publications and Downloadable PDFs