Date of Award
Simon P. Lailvaux
Charles D. Bell
Snakes represent an impressive evolutionary radiation of over 3,500 widely-distributed species, categorized into 515 genera, encompassing a diverse range of morphologies and ecologies. This diversity is likely attributable to their distinctive morphology, which has allowed them to populate a wide range of habitat types within most major ecosystems. In my first chapter, I provide the largest-yet estimate of the snake tree of life using maximum likelihood on a supermatrix of 1745 taxa (1652 snake species + 7 outgroup taxa) and 9,523 base pairs from 10 loci (5 nuclear, 5 mitochondrial), including previously unsequenced genera (2) and species (61). I then use this phylogeny to test hypotheses regarding heterogeneity in diversification rates and how this shaped overall patterns of snake diversity in Chapter 2. I also used the species-level phylogeny to test the evolution of habitat use in snakes, morphological variation, and whether distantly-related species exhibit morphological convergence in Chapter 3. Finally, in Chapter 4 I investigate how prehensile tails effect striking performance in arboreal snakes.
Figueroa, Alex, "Phylogenetic Relationships and Evolution of Snakes" (2016). University of New Orleans Theses and Dissertations. 2222.
Supplementary Information Chapter 1
Figueroa - Dissertation Ch. 2 Supplementary Information.pdf (448 kB)
Supplementary Information Chapter 2
Figueroa - Dissertation Ch. 3 Supplementary Information.pdf (343 kB)
Supplementary Information Chapter 3