Joseph Bernardo

Research Associate Professor

Fax: 979-845-2891

Researcher ID

Joined the Department in 2011

  • B.A., 1986, University of Pennsylvania: Biology (simultaneous with M.A.).
  • M.A., 1986, University of Pennsylvania: Biology (Program in Ecology & Evolution).
  • Ph.D., 1991, Duke University: Zoology, minor Mathematics.
  • Postdoc: University of Texas, Austin.


Ecology and Evolutionary Biology at Texas A&M

I am an Integrative Evolutionary Ecologist, meaning that my research addresses a range of fundamental questions in Ecology and Evolutionary Biology from a multi-disciplinary, integrative perspective and using a diverse array of tools including field experiments, phylogenetically-rooted comparative statistical analyses, quantitative estimates of physiological performance, experimental analyses of reproductive behavior, and molecular genetics.  I often work at the nexus of typically disparate fields of study, for example combining genetic, phylogenetic, physiological and macroecological perspectives in a single analysis of distribution and dispersal (Bernardo et al. 2007).  Because multiple causality is inherent in understanding ecological and evolutionary problems, my research emphasizes a strong inference approach that therefore relies on both large datasets and multivariate statistical models to evaluate competing hypotheses.  Most of my active work involves vertebrates and insects and other major invertebrate groups.

General areas of interest include:

  • determinants of range size and position • biodiversity conservation in the face of climate change
  • detection, and ecological and conservation implications of cryptic speciation and diversity
  • vertebrate ecology and life history
  • biology of amphibians and reptiles, especially salamanders and lizards
  • speciation and evolution of reproductive isolation
  • evolutionary ecology of body size including its role in species packing and community assembly
  • clinal variation in life history and physiological traits
  • comparative animal physiology and physiological ecology especially as they relate to life history variation and range occupation (macrophysiology)
  • life history evolution
  • evolution and implications of maternal effects, especially propagule size
  • experimental ecology

Current active projects include:

  1. Analysis of the tempo and mode of speciation in salamanders in which the relative and interactive contributions of ecological, behavioral, physiological and life historical factors are considered simultaneously;
  2. Development of an operational, species traits-based approach to analyzing organismal vulnerability to climate changeand its application to a wide range of organisms including salamanders, marine turtles, and the ensemble of species used as food organisms by Inupiaq people of Alaska;
  3. Large-scale comparative macrophysiological analyses of mammals and amphibians;
  4. Landscape patterns and evolutionary basis of community assembly in salamanders;

More detailed descriptions of these and other research areas, related publications and opportunities for undergraduate and graduate student projects, as well as PDF files of all my publications are on the laboratory website.

  1. Kassam, KS, Bernardo, J. Role of Biodiversity in Ecological Calendars and Its Implications for Food Sovereignty: Empirical Assessment of the Resilience of Indicator Species to Anthropogenic Climate Change. Geohealth. 2022;6 (10):e2022GH000614. doi: 10.1029/2022GH000614. PubMed PMID:36267339 PubMed Central PMC9578541.
  2. Figgener, C, Bernardo, J, Plotkin, PT. Marine turtles are only minimally sexually size dimorphic, a pattern that is distinct from most nonmarine aquatic turtles. Ecol Evol. 2022;12 (6):e8963. doi: 10.1002/ece3.8963. PubMed PMID:35784046 PubMed Central PMC9163671.
  3. Figgener, C, Bernardo, J, Plotkin, PT. Beyond trophic morphology: stable isotopes reveal ubiquitous versatility in marine turtle trophic ecology. Biol Rev Camb Philos Soc. 2019;94 (6):1947-1973. doi: 10.1111/brv.12543. PubMed PMID:31338959 PubMed Central PMC6899600.
  4. Figgener, C, Bernardo, J, Plotkin, PT. MarTurtSI, a global database of stable isotope analyses of marine turtles. Sci Data. 2019;6 (1):16. doi: 10.1038/s41597-019-0030-9. PubMed PMID:30944336 PubMed Central PMC6472395.
  5. Means, DB, Lamb, JY, Bernardo, J. A new species of dusky salamander (Amphibia: Plethodontidae: Desmognathus) from the Eastern Gulf Coastal Plain of the United States and a redescription of D. auriculatus. Zootaxa. 2017;4263 (3):467-506. doi: 10.11646/zootaxa.4263.3.3. PubMed PMID:28609856 .
  6. Bernardo, J. Biologically grounded predictions of species resistance and resilience to climate change. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2014;111 (15):5450-1. doi: 10.1073/pnas.1404505111. PubMed PMID:24706891 PubMed Central PMC3992652.
  7. Plotkin, P, Bernardo, J. Sea turtle funding dries up. Science. 2014;343 (6170):484. doi: 10.1126/science.343.6170.484-a. PubMed PMID:24482463 .
  8. Agosta, SJ, Bernardo, J, Ceballos, G, Steele, MA. A macrophysiological analysis of energetic constraints on geographic range size in mammals. PLoS One. 2013;8 (9):e72731. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0072731. PubMed PMID:24058444 PubMed Central PMC3772909.
  9. Agosta, SJ, Bernardo, J. New macroecological insights into functional constraints on mammalian geographical range size. Proc Biol Sci. 2013;280 (1758):20130140. doi: 10.1098/rspb.2013.0140. PubMed PMID:23486441 PubMed Central PMC3619465.
  10. Gaston, KJ, Chown, SL, Calosi, P, Bernardo, J, Bilton, DT, Clarke, A et al.. Macrophysiology: a conceptual reunification. Am Nat. 2009;174 (5):595-612. doi: 10.1086/605982. PubMed PMID:19788354 .
  11. Figgener, Christine, Joseph Bernardo, and Pamela T. Plotkin. 2022. Delineating and characterising critical habitat for the Eastern Pacific olive ridley turtle (Lepidochelys olivacea): individual differences in migratory routes present challenges for conservation measures. Front. Ecol. Evol., Sec. Biogeography and Macroecology. doi: 10.3389/fevo.2022.933424
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