Home Page of Chris Phillips
Christopher A. Phillips
I am a Research Program Leader and Curator of Amphibians and Reptiles. I have been at the Illinois Natural History since 1993. I am also an affiliate Professor in the Department of Animal Biology, UIUC and the Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Sciences, UIUC.
My main research program has centered on the broad topic of how populations of amphibians and reptiles have arrived at their current spatial distributions and how they maintain (or fail to maintain) these distributions. This was given as one of the definitions of Ecology in my undergraduate Ecology text. I have approached this topic in two ways, indirectly through the use of molecular markers, and directly through field observations, field manipulations, and laboratory experiments. Over the past ten years, my research focus has shifted to include exclusively direct methods (mark-recapture, telemetry, etc.). Although this approach has its drawbacks and limitations, when used in conjunction with indirect genetic measures, it gives a clearer picture of population structure than either method alone. In the past I have utilized collaboration with colleagues to include indirect techniques (utilizing molecular markers) while I used direct approaches. Recently, molecular analyses have returned to my lab, with several graduate students analysing population structure using microsatellites.
One of the longest running projects I am directly involved with is the study of eastern massasauga rattlesnakes at Carlyle Lake, Illinois. This project started in 1999 and I hope to continue for several more years. More details can be found here.
Other areas of interest include:
2) Developing an index of integrity for seasonal wetlands in Illinois using amphibians, reptiles, and invertebrates as indicators.