Research in the Smith Lab focuses on a wide variety of herpetology-related topics, including phylogenetic systematics using both morphology and molecular characters, ecomorphology, ecophysiology, functional morphology, and comparative anatomy. Field work plays an essential role in our lab and focuses on areas in Mexico and Central and South America, as well as India and Indonesia.
Some of the projects the lab has investigated in the past are the phylogenetic relationships, biogeography, and phylogeography of coral snakes (Elapidae), neotropical snail-eating snakes (Dipsadini), several venomous colubrids (Dispholidini) from Africa, and frogs of the genus Craugastor; functional morphology and comparative anatomy among the Dipsadini; ecomorphology in lizards of the Sceloporus formosus group; the effects of habitat use on rates of cutaneous evaporative water loss in Sceloporus and in various viperids; and the use of multistate polymorphic characters in phylogenetic reconstruction.
In addition, the Smith lab is actively building the UTA herpetology specimen collection by conducting collecting trips to the areas mentioned above. These collecting trips involve numerous international collaborators and consistently result in the acquisition of new species of reptiles and amphibians, which are continually being described.
The overall goal of the research conducted in our lab is the increased understanding of the diversity, ecology, and evolutionary history of reptiles and amphibians with the hopes that this information can be applied to conservation efforts.