Dr Mark D. Scherz

Herpetologist and Evolutionary Biologist

About


MScherz_ZSMprofil2I am an evolutionary biologist interested in macroevolution, convergent evolution, bio- and phylogeography, and speciation. I am particularly fascinated by gigantic pseudo-insular systems, such as Madagascar and Africa’s Great Lakes, and the processes involved in the generation and maintenance of their diversity. I am currently a PostDoc in the Meyer Lab at the University of Konstanz in southern Germany.

Research Interests

I have broad interests in the fields of evolutionary biology, systematics, and herpetology. My particular expertise is in the herpetofauna of Madagascar, where I have been conducting research since 2005. I have worked on a broad range of subjects, including chameleon fluorescence, amphibian biogeography and diversity, descriptive and functional osteology, and especially taxonomy of Madagascan reptiles and amphibians. Right now, I am working on a variety of projects related to speciation in cichlid fish.

Schwerpunkt MicrohylidaeHerpetologica_small

One of my recent research foci has been the evolutionary systematics and taxonomy of microhylid frogs of the subfamily Cophylinae. These diverse and cryptic frogs present problems of identification which drive the search for new methodologies in taxonomy. I make use of micro-Computed Tomography (micro-CT) to examine osteology, which I integrate into taxonomic treatments, and also use to understand the evolution and function of morphology in these highly diverse frogs. Since 2014, I have published numerous studies describing over 40 new species of cophyline frogs; you can read about them on the blog part of this website.

Convergent evolution and morphology

I am particularly interested in the principles of morphological evolution, the role of ecology in shaping this evolution, and the potential for ecological and morphological convergent evolution. Currently, I am looking at this particularly in the Cophylinae (Madagascan narrow-mouthed frogs) and the Chamaeleonidae (chameleons). One of the key things I am interested in is the predictability of evolution given a similar but non-identical set of ‘starting conditions’, and the process of adaptive morphological evolution at the genomic level.

Squamates Podcast

I co-host the SquaMates podcast, together with Ethan Kocak of Blackmudpuppy Comics and Gabriel Ugueto, a scientific illustrator. It’s a light-spirited science podcast that you might like, especially if you’ve managed to read this far down my about page. You can check it out at Squamatespod.com, or you can find it in most podcast-listening apps.

Private life and hobbies

My partner Ella Z. Lattenkamp studies vocal learning in bats; together the two of us go on periodic adventures. Her website showcases these adventures, as well as her research. Have a look!

Photography has been a passion for me since my first visit to Madagascar in 2005. I use my research together with my photography to achieve better outcomes and increase publicity for the species and areas I study. You can see a showcase of my photography here.

I dance Lindy Hop and occasionally dabble in water colouring, but mostly I watch Star Trek and talk about Tolkien.

Get in touch