Christopher Austin

Christopher Austin
Curator of Herpetology
119 Foster Hall
Louisiana State University
Baton Rouge, LA 70803
Telephone: 225-578-2841
Fax: 225-548-3075

Lab Web Page


I completed my undergraduate degree at the University of California at Davis and my PhD at the University of Texas at Austin. As a 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.

Research Interests

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.


Herpetology, Bio 4146, Spring (odd numbered years)

Selected Publications

Molecular Systematics & Biogeography:

Fuerst, G.S. and C.C. Austin. (2004). Population genetic structure of the Prairie Skink (Eumeces septentrionalis): nested clade analysis of post Pleistocene populations. Journal of Herpetology, 38:257-268.

Austin, C.C., I. Das and A. de Silva. (2004). Higher-level molecular phylogenetic relationships of the endemic genus Lankascincus from Sri Lanka based on nuclear DNA sequences. In: The Herpetology of Sri Lanka: Current Research (including the Proceeding of the Fourth World Congress of Herpetology, Sri Lankan papers and the Nilgala Expedition papers) Lyriocephalus Special Issue. V. 5, Nos, 1&2:11-22.

Rest, J.S., J.C. Ast, C.C. Austin, P.J. Waddell, E.A. Tibbets, J.M. Hay, D.P. Mindell. (2003). Molecular systematics of Reptilia and the tuatara mitochondrial genome. Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution, 29:289-297.

Smith, S.A., C.C. Austin, and R. Shine. (2001) A phylogenetic analysis of the evolution of viviparity within an Australian lizard species (Saiphos equalis, Scincidae). Biological Journal of the Linnean Society, 74:131-139

Austin, C.C. (2000). Molecular phylogeny, population structure, and historical biogeography of Pacific island boas (Candoia). Copeia 2000:341-352.

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

Austin, C.C. and G. Zug. (1999). Molecular and morphological evolution in the south-central Pacific skink Emoia tongana (Reptilia: Squamata): uniformity and human-mediated dispersal. Australian Journal of Zoology 47:425-437.

Austin, C.C. (1999). Island Colonization by Lipinia noctua (Reptilia: Scincidae) in Melanesia: Molecular Phylogeny and Population Structure Based on Mitochondrial Cytochrome b and 12S rRNA Genes. In: Island Herpetofauna: Origin, current status and Conservation. T. Ota, ed. Pp.169-189, Elsevier Press.

Austin, C. C. (1999). Colonization, isolation and speciation of lizards on Pacific islands: a molecular genetic perspective. Aquabiology 21:313-318.

Saint, K.M, C.C. Austin, S.C. Donnellan and M.N. Hutchinson. (1998). C-mos, a nuclear marker useful for squamate phylogenetic analysis. Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution 10:259-263.

Austin, C.C. (1998). Phylogenetic relationships of Lipinia (Scincidae) from New Guinea based on DNA sequence variation from the mitochondrial 12S rRNA and nuclear c-mos genes. Hamadryad 23:93-102.

Austin, C.C. (1995). Molecular and morphological evolution in South Pacific scincid lizards: morphological conservatism and phylogenetic relationships of Papuan Lipinia (Scincidae). Herpetologica 51:291-300.

Adler, G.H., C.C. Austin, and R. Dudley. (1995). Dispersal and speciation of skinks among archipelagos in the tropical Pacific Ocean. Evolutionary Ecology 9:529-541.

Physiological Ecology & Functional Morphology:

Irschick, D.J., C.C. Austin, K. Petren, R.N. Fisher, J.B. Losos, and O. Ellers. (1996). A comparative analysis of clinging ability among pad-bearing lizards. Biological Journal of the Linnean Society 59:21-35.

Austin, C.C. and K.J. Jessing. (1994). Green-blood pigmentation in lizards. Comparative Biochemistry and Physiology 109A:619-626.

Austin, C.C. and H.B. Shaffer. (1992). Short-, medium-, and long term repeatability of locomotor performance in the tiger salamander Ambystoma californiense. Functional Ecology 6:145-153.

Shaffer, H.B., C.C. Austin, and R.B. Huey. (1991). The consequences of metamorphosis on salamander (Ambystoma) locomotor performance. Physiological Zoology 64:212-231.

Molecular Methods:

Austin, C.C. (1995). A new method of bi-polymerase sequencing prevents “stop-bands.” Molecular Biotechnology 4:100-101.

Contact Us

Museum of Natural Science
119 Foster Hall
Louisiana State University
Baton Rouge, LA 70803
Phone: 225-578-2855


Hours & Admissions

Admission: Free
: Mon - Fri, 8 a.m. - 4 p.m.*
Closed: Sat; Sun; state holidays
*Closed Fri at 2 p.m. during school year.

Map & Directions