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Faculty Biography

Philip Bergmann

Philip Bergmann

Assistant Professor of Biology
Department of Biology
Clark University
Worcester, MA 01610-1477

Office: #342; Lab #353
Phone: 508.793.7553

Curriculum Vitae
Research Laboratory Website


Ph.D. University of Massachusetts, Amherst
M.S. University of Calgary
B.S. University of Calgary

Current Research and Teaching

callisaurusMy research takes a broadly integrative approach to studying the evolution and diversification of functional morphological systems. I am particularly interested in how phenotype and function interact. A central research focus is the evolution of body shape—the relative proportions of the head, body, limbs and tail. Species differ tremendously in body shape, and this influences their locomotion and habitat use. These phenotype-function relationships influence species richness, morphological disparity, and functional diversity of different taxa. A second, related research focus is how the evolution vertebral numbers and proportions evolve to modify body shape and function. Among vertebrates, the evolution of segmentation is a dominant force in body shape evolution.

Skeletal xrayMy work has primarily focused on lizards as a model system because of their great taxonomic and morphological diversity, but I have also used other organisms, including rats, where appropriate. I am intersted in expanding my research to include salamanders, which are very diverse in New England. In conducting my research, I integrate DNA sequence, morphological, morphometric, locomotor, and ecological data with an explicitly statistical approach. An important tool in my research is the use of statistics, often including phylogenetically-informed analyses. Museum specimens feature prominently in my morphological and morphometric data sets, allowing for maximal taxon sampling. Field data are also an important component of my research. I capture specimens in nature and conduct locomotor performance and kinematics trials using high-speed video in the field.

I will be teaching Comparative Vertebrate and Human Anatomy (BIOL112), starting with the Spring 2011 semester. This course will introduce students to the antomy of vertebrates, including humans. Students will learn about the various organ systems and how they have evolved through interactive lectures and hands-on laboratory dissection. During Fall 2011 I will be teaching a course in Herpetology, which will have an organismal focus and cover many aspects of the diversity and evolution of Amphibians and Reptiles.

Selected Publications

Bergmann PJ, Irschick DJ. 2012. Vertebral evolution and the diversification of squamate reptiles. Evolution 66(4): 1044-1058

Bergmann, PJ, Irschick, DJ. Submitted. Vertebral evolution and the diversification of squamate reptiles. Evolution.

Bergmann, PJ, Irschick, DJ. 2010. Alternate pathways of body shape evolution translate into common patterns of locomotor evolution in two clades of lizards. Evolution 64: 1569-1582.

Bergmann PJ, Meyers JJ, and Irschick DJ. 2009. Directional evolution of stockiness co-evolves with ecology and locomotion in lizards. Evolution 62: 215-227.

Bergmann PJ, and Russell AP. 2007. Systematics and biogeography of the widespread Neotropical gekkonid genus Thecadactylus (Squamata), with the description of a new cryptic species. Zoological Journal of the Linnean Society 149: 339-370.

Bergmann PJ, and Irschick DJ. 2006. Effects of temperature on maximum acceleration, deceleration, and power output during vertical running in geckos. Journal of Experimental Biology 209: 1404-1412.

Bergmann PJ, Melin AD, and Russell AP. 2006. Differential segmental growth of the vertebral column of the rat (Rattus norvegicus). Zoology 109: 54-65.

Bergmann PJ, and Irschick DJ. 2005. Effects of temperature on maximum clinging ability in a diurnal gecko: evidence for a passive clinging mechanism? Journal of Experimental Zoology 303A: 785-791.

Kronauer DJC, Bergmann PJ, Mercer JM, and Russell AP. 2005. A phylogeographically distinct and deep divergence in the widespread Neotropical turnip-tailed gecko, Thecadactylus rapicauda. Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution 34: 431-437.

Bergmann PJ, Hobbs AM, Kavalench ML, and Russell AP. 2004. Modulated but conserved segmental growth of the original tail in Callisaurus draconoides (Phrynosomatidae) and Calotes versicolor (Agamidae). Herpetologica 60: 62-74.