Ronald A. Van Den Bussche, Senior Associate Vice President for Research, Regents Professor, & Curator of Frozen Tissues

Phylogenetics, Phylogeography, Conservation Genetics, Genomics

Ph.D., 1989 Texas Tech University

Phone: 405-744-6501


Lab website

Specific Interests

The fact that organisms can and do evolve requires the utilization of an evolutionary perspective when seeking to understand processes responsible for modern patterns of diversity. My laboratory utilizes molecular techniques to better our understanding of the processes responsible for the current biogeographic, morphologic, and ecologic variation observed in nature.

Many of the studies in my laboratory address phylogenetic, phylogeographic, or population genetic questions in mammals. Because phylogenetic studies are essential for understanding evolutionary processes occurring at both the organismal and molecular level, the importance of reliable phylogenetic hypotheses as foundations for interpreting diverse biological observations has become increasingly apparent in recent years. Considerable energy in my laboratory is focused on bats (Mammalia: Chiroptera). Among mammals, the order Chiroptera is second only to rodents in terms of species diversity and is an important component of terrestrial ecosystems throughout temperate, subtropical, and tropical areas of the world. Because of the morphological, ecological, and behavioral diversity within Chiroptera, bats provide an ideal opportunity to address several evolutionary and ecological hypotheses. Unfortunately, the rapid radiation of bats, coupled with the extraordinary diversity in behavior, habitat utilization, morphology, feeding strategies, and life-history strategies has complicated interpretations of phylogenetic relationships and phylogeographic patterns. It is the overall goal of my laboratory to provide a more accurate phylogenetic perspective on the relationships within Chiroptera at several taxonomic levels to allow for more detailed studies of the evolution of the amazing diversity portrayed by bats.

In addition to bats, my laboratory is also interested in ascertaining patterns of molecular diversity of a variety of other organisms to better understand the relative contribution of historic and contemporary processes (i.e., habitat fragmentation, contaminants, disease) to the partitioning of genetic variation within and among populations. It is our assertion that a better understanding of these processes is critical for the conservation of biodiversity.

Selected Publications

  • Judkins, M.E.*, M. B. Couger, W. C. Warren, and R. A. Van Den Bussche. 2020. A 50K SNP array reveals genetic structure for bald eagles (Haliaeetus leucocephalus). Conservation Genetics, 21:65–76.
  • Judkins, M. E.*, and R. A. Van Den Bussche. 2018. Holarctic phylogeography of the golden eagle (Aquila chrysaetos) and evaluation of alternative North American management approaches. Biological Journal of the Linnean Society, 123:471–482.
  • Echelle, A. A., N. J. Lang, W. C. Borden, M. R. Schwemm, C. W. Hoagstrom, D. J. Eisenhower, R. L. Mayden and R. A. Van Den Bussche. 2018. Molecular systematics of the North American chub genus Macrhybopsis (Teleostrei: Cyprinidae). Zootaxa, 4375:537–554.
  • Van Den Bussche, R. A., M. E. Judkins*, M. J. Montague, and W. C. Warren. 2017. A resource of genome-wide single nucleotide polymorphism (SNPs) for the conservation and management of golden eagles (Aquila chrysaetos). Journal of Raptor Research, 51:368–377.
  • Moncrief, N. D., J. H. Roberts, E. M. Hallerman, R. A. Van Den Bussche, J. H. Porter, and R. D. Dueser. 2017. Landscape genetics of a raccoon (Procyon lotor) metapopulation in an undeveloped coastal island system. Journal of Mammalogy, 98:1137–1155.
  • Davis, C. A., J. P. Orange*, R. A. Van Den Bussche, R. D. Elmore, S. D. Fuhlendorf, J. M. Carroll, E. P. Tanner, and D. M. Leslie, Jr. 2017. Extrapair paternity and nest parasitism in two sympatric quail. The Auk, 134:811–820.
  • Van Den Bussche, R. A., D. N. Lee*, M. E. Judkins*, J. E. Dyer**, D. M. Thompson*, R. C. Stark, W. L. Puckette, and B. Fuller. 2016. Molecular dietary analysis of the endangered Ozark big-eared bat (Corynorhinus townsendii ingens). Acta Chiropterologica, 18:181–191.