Robert E. Espinoza
Professor &

Special Assistant to the Dean

Ph.D. Ecology, Evolution, and Conservation Biology
University of Nevada, Reno

Research Associate, Herpetology,
Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County

Department of Biology
California State University, Northridge
18111 Nordhoff Street
Northridge, California 91330-8303, USA

Office: (818) 677-4980
Laboratory: (818) 677-5737
FAX: (818) 677-2034

Office: Chaparral Hall 5319

Lab: Chaparral Hall 5328

Dean's Office: Eucalyptus Hall 2130


Research in the Laboratory of Integrative and Comparative Herpetology (LICH) seeks to understand how forces such as evolutionary history, the physical environment, and interactions among species affect an animal's morphology, physiology, ecology, behavior, and life history. In short, we study the "how" and the "why" of animal function. We study these relationships principally in amphibians and reptiles because they are ideal organisms for testing hypotheses that lie at the interface of physiology, behavior, ecology, and evolution. Recent studies have included a blend of field observations, measurements, and experiments, laboratory benchwork and experiments, and computer simulations. Usually our research draws from several levels of biological inquiry: subcellular, tissues, individuals, populations, and communities. However, we tend to emphasize the biology of whole organisms and to draw broader inferences from modern comparative analyses. I also conduct research with colleagues in Argentina on a large clade (>250 species) of austral South American lizards (Liolaemidae). This lineage offers an excellent model system for answering a variety of questions that are of general interest to comparative biologists.

Current Research

A number of research projects are currently underway. Several of these are externally funded and all involve student participants.

I enjoy working with undergraduate and graduate students who share my interests in herpetology, or aspects of the evolution, functional morphology, physiology, and ecology of most vertebrates. Our laboratory facilities--coupled with those in the department, university, and the southern California environment--provide excellent opportunities for research. I offer a supportive yet critical environment for fulfilling intellectual and academic pursuits. You can learn more about research opportunities and expectations for investigators in LICH here. [pdf]

Current Student Projects

Former MS Students

Selected Publications

Espinoza, R. E. 2009. Western fence lizard (Sceloporus occidentalis). Pp. 234-237, in: Lizards of the American Southwest: A Photographic Fieldguide, L. L. C. Jones and R. E. Lovich (eds.). Rio Nuevo Press, Tucson, Arizona.

Espinoza, R. E. 2009. Mohave fringe-toed lizard (Uma scoparia). Pp. 278-281, in: Lizards of the American Southwest: A Photographic Fieldguide, L. L. C. Jones and R. E. Lovich (eds.). Rio Nuevo Press, Tucson, Arizona.

Espinoza, R. E. 2009. Western banded gecko (Coleonyx variegatus). Pp. 312-315, in: Lizards of the American Southwest: A Photographic Fieldguide. L. L. C. Jones and R. E. Lovich (eds.). Rio Nuevo Press, Tucson, Arizona.

Espinoza, R. E. and K. de Queiroz. 2008. Historical perspectives: Richard Emmett Etheridge. Copeia 2008:708-717. [pdf]

Abadala, C. S., A. S. Quinteros, and R. E. Espinoza. 2008. Two new species of Liolaemus (Iguania: Liolaemidae) from the Puna of northwestern Argentina. Herpetologica 64:458-471. [pdf]

Espinoza, R. E. and S. Quinteros. 2008. A hot knot of toads: aggregation provides thermal benefits to metamorphic Andean toads. Journal of Thermal Biology 33:67-75. [pdf]

Tracy, C. R. , K. E. Nussear, T. C. Esque, K. Dean-Bradley, C. R. Tracy, L. A. DeFalco, K. T. Castle, L. C. Zimmerman, R. E. Espinoza, and A. M. Barber. 2006. The importance of physiological ecology in conservation biology. Integrative and Comparative Biology 46:1191-1205. [pdf]

Lancaster, J. R., P. Wilson, and R. E. Espinoza. 2006. Physiological benefits as precursors of sociality: why banded geckos band. Animal Behaviour 72:199-207. [pdf]

Cruz, F. B., L. A. Fitzgerald, R. E. Espinoza, and Schulte, J. A. II. 2005. The importance of phylogenetic scale in tests of Bergmann's and Rapoport's rules: lessons from a clade of South American lizards. Journal of Evolutionary Biology 18:1559-1574. [pdf]

Tracy, C. R. , K. M. Flack, L. C. Zimmerman, R. E. Espinoza, and C. R. Tracy. 2005. Herbivory imposes constraints on voluntary hypothermia in lizards. Copeia 2005:12-19. [pdf]

Espinoza, R. E., J. J. Wiens, and C. R. Tracy. 2004. Recurrent evolution of herbivory in small, cold-climate lizards: breaking the ecophysiological rules of reptilian herbivory. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, USA 101:16819-16824. [pdf]

Lobo, F. and R. E. Espinoza. 2004. Two new Liolaemus from the Puna region of Argentina and Chile: further resolution of purported reproductive bimodality in Liolaemus alticolor (Iguania: Liolaemidae). Copeia 2004:850-866. [pdf]

Hernandez, R. A. and R. E. Espinoza. 2004. Description of the female of the enigmatic lizard, Liolaemus heliodermis (Iguania: Liolaemidae). Herpetological Review 35:227-229. [pdf]

Espinoza, R. E. and F. Lobo. 2003. Two new species of Liolaemus lizards from northwestern Argentina: speciation within the northern subclade of the elongatus group (Iguania: Liolaemidae). Herpetologica 59:89-105. [pdf]

Cooper, W. E. Jr., J. J. Habegger, and R. E. Espinoza. 2001. Responses to prey and plant chemicals by three iguanian lizards: relationship to plants in the diet. Amphibia-Reptilia 22:349-362.

Scheltinga, D. M., B. G. M. Jamieson, R. E. Espinoza, and K. S. Orrell. 2001. Descriptions of the mature spermatozoa of the lizards Crotaphytus bicinctores, Gambelia wislizenii (Crotaphytidae), and Anolis carolinensis (Polychrotidae) (Reptilia, Squamata, Iguania). Journal of Morphology 247:160-171. [pdf]

Simandle, E. T., R. E. Espinoza, K. E. Nussear, and C. R. Tracy. 2001. Lizards, lipids, and dietary links to animal function. Physiological and Biochemical Zoology 74:625-640. [pdf]

Etheridge, R. and R. E. Espinoza. 2000. Taxonomy of the Liolaeminae (Squamata: Iguania: Tropiduridae) and a semi-annotated bibliography. Smithsonian Herpetological Information Service 126:1-64. [continuously updated on the web: Liolaemidae Website]

Espinoza, R. E., F. Lobo, and F. B. Cruz. 2000. Liolaemus heliodermis, a new lizard from northwestern Argentina with remarks on the content of the elongatus group (Iguania: Tropiduridae). Herpetologica 56:235-244.[pdf]

Schulte, J. A. II, J. R. Macey, R. E. Espinoza, and A. Larson. 2000. Phylogenetic relationships in the iguanid lizard genus Liolaemus: multiple origins of viviparous reproduction and evidence for recurring Andean vicariance and dispersal. Biological Journal of the Linnean Society 69:75-102. [pdf]

Halloy, M. and R. E. Espinoza. 1999-2000. Territorial encounters and threat displays in the Neotropical frog, Phyllomedusa sauvagii (Anura: Hylidae). Herpetological Natural History 7:175-180. [pdf]

Lobo, F. and R. E. Espinoza. 1999. Two new cryptic species of Liolaemus (Iguania: Tropiduridae) from northwestern Argentina: resolution of the purported reproductive bimodality of Liolaemus alticolor. Copeia 1999:122-140.[pdf]

Nussear, K. E., R. E. Espinoza, C. M. Gubbins, K. J. Field, and J. P. Hayes. 1998. Diet quality does not affect resting metabolic rate or body temperatures selected by an herbivorous lizard. Journal of Comparative Physiology B 168:183-189. [pdf/erratum]

Espinoza, R. E. and C. R. Tracy. 1997. Thermal biology, metabolism, and hibernation. Pp. 149-184, in: The Biology, Husbandry and Health Care of Reptiles. L. J. Ackerman (Ed.). Volume 1, Biology of Reptiles. T.F.H. Publications, Neptune City, New Jersey. [pdf]

Espinoza, R. E. and F. Lobo. 1996. Possible communal nesting in two species of Liolaemus lizards (Iguania: Tropiduridae) from northern Argentina. Herpetological Natural History 4:65-68. [pdf]


Last updated 19 February 2010