Christopher C. Austin

Christopher  C.  Austin 

John S. McIlhenny Distinguished Professorship
Curator of Herpetology
Director, LSU Museum of Natural Science
SEE division

Phone: 225-578-2841
Fax: 225-548-3075

Office: 206 Foster Hall
Website: Austin Lab


I completed my undergraduate degree at the University of California at Davis and my PhD at the University of Texas at Austin. As I graduate student I developed a deep interest in the herpetofauna and biogeography of Australasia. I spent two years in Australia as a National Science Foundation Postdoctoral Fellow at the South Australian Museum in Adelaide and a Myer Postdoctoral Fellow at the Australian Museum in Sydney. I then spent two years in Japan as a Postdoctoral Fellow at the Institute of Statistical Mathematics in Tokyo. 

Area of Interest

My laboratory uses molecular genetic techniques to examine questions concerning population genetics, systematics, biogeography, phylogeography and physiological and functional ecology of reptiles and amphibians. Research in my lab primarily uses independent molecular genetic data sets to answer evolutionary questions. Morphological data are also incorporated. This integrated approach, using a variety of molecular tools as well as morphological characters, is critical to gain the best estimate of historical relationships. Presently, there are multiple research projects underway around the world, but my particular geographic focus is the island of New Guinea, the world’s largest and highest tropical island.

Selected Publications

Oliver, P.M., R. Hartman, C.D. Turner, T.A. Wilde, C.C. Austin, S.J. Richards (2020). A new species of Cyrtodactylus Gray (Gekkonidae: Squamata) from Manus Island, and extended description and range extension for Cyrtodactylus sermowaiensis (De Rooij). Zootaxa, 4728 (3): 341-356.

 Newman, C.E. and C.C. Austin (2019). Quantifying amphibian range fragmentation in the southeastern United States. Frontiers in Biogeography. doi:10.21425/F5FBG37772

 Rodriguez, Z.B., S.L. Perkins, and  (C.C. Austin2018). Multiple origins of green blood in New Guinea lizards.  Science Advances, 4: eaao5017

 Ruane, S. S.J. Richards, J.D. McVay, B. Tjaturadi, K. Krey, and C.C. Austin (2017). Cryptic and non-Cryptic Diversity in New Guinea Ground Snakes (Genus: Stegonotus): A Description of Four New Species. Journal of Natural History doi: 00222933.2017.1391959

Ruane, S, and C.C. Austin (2017). Phylogenomics using formalin-fixed and 100+ year old intractable natural history specimens. Molecular Ecology Resources doi: 10.1111/1755-0998.12655 

 Rittmeyer, E.R. and C.C. Austin (2017). Two new species of Crocodile Skinks (Squamata: Scincidae: Tribolonotus) from the Solomon Archipelago. Zootaxa, 4268 (1): 71-87.

 Weinell J.L. and C.C. Austin (2017) Refugia and speciation in North American Scarlet Snakes (Cemophora). Journal of Herpetology, 51(1):161-171.

Newman, C.E. and C.C. Austin (2016). The dynamic evolutionary history of genome size in North American woodland salamanders. Genome, 11:1-8.

Newman C.E and C.C. Austin (2016). Sequence capture and next-generation sequencing of ultraconserved elements in a large-genome salamander. Molecular Ecology, 25, 6162-6174.

Newman, C.E., C.C. Austin (2015). Thriving in the cold: a surprising pattern of glacial expansion and post-glacial contraction of a temperate terrestrial salamander (Plethodon serratus) in the Southeastern US. PLOS ONE 10(7): e0130131.doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0130131

Rittmeyer, E.N., C.C. Austin. (2015). Combined next-generation sequencing and morphology reveal fine-scale speciation in Crocodile Skinks (Squamata: Scincidae: Tribolonotus). Molecular Ecology, 24:466-483.

Rittmeyer, E.N., C.C. Austin. (2012). The effects of sampling on delimiting species from multi-locus sequence data. Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution, 65:451-463.

Rittmeyer, E.N., A. Allison, M.C. Gründler D.K. Thompson, C.C. Austin (2012). Ecological guild evolution and the discovery of the world’s smallest vertebrate. PLoS ONE, 7(1): e29797. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0029797

 Austin, C.C., Rittmeyer, E., Oliver, L., Andermann, J., Zug, G.R, Rodda, G.H. and N.D. Jackson (2011). The bioinvasion of Guam: inferring geographic origin, pace, pattern and process of an invasive lizard (Carlia) in the Pacific using multi-locus genomic data.  Biological Invasions, 13:1951–1967.

 Austin, C.C., Rittmeyer, R.N., Richards, S.J., and G.R. Zug.  (2010) Molecular Phylogeny, Historical Biogeography and Body Size Evolution in Pacific Island Crocodile Skinks Tribolonotus (Squamata; Scincidae). Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution, 57:227-236.

 Jackson, N.D. and C.C. Austin (2010). The combined effects of rivers and refugia generate extreme cryptic fragmentation within the common ground skink (Scincella lateralis). Evolution, 64(2):409-428.

 Austin, C.C. (1999).  Lizards took express train to Polynesia.  Nature 397:113-114.