in my lab focuses on the anatomy, evolution, systematics, and biogeography of
various marine mammals especially cetaceans. Projects currently being pursued
include ultrastructure of baleen, vibrational analysis of the tympanoperiotic
of whales, phylogeny of monachine phocids and phocoids (i.e. Allodesmus and Desmatophoca), mysticete phylogeny (cetotheres), and otariid diet
composition. My research is currently funded by NSF (Systematic Biology) and I
am accepting MS students.
evidence analysis of pinniped phylogeny with an emphasis on the position of the
fossil taxon Allodesmus
Furbish's MS thesis project examines the controversial placement of the extinct
pinniped, Allodesmus, on the pinniped phylogenetic tree. The total
evidence analysis of pinnipeds will incorporate both morphological data and DNA
evidence. Reagan also enjoys snorkeling with the sea lions in La Jolla,
surfing, and board game nights.
Ultrastructure of baleen in mysticete whales: evolutionary and ecological implications
Nicholas Zellmer’s MS thesis examines the ultrastructure of baleen plates and bristles in Mysticeti using various light and electron microscope based techniques. The data collected on baleen ultrastructure will be used to describe inter and intraspecific morphological variation and investigate the driving forces, such as phylogeny and ecology, behind species specific morphologies. Nicholas also enjoys hitting the beach and going for ridiculously long runs.
Form, function and phylogeny: a quantitative analysis of the cetacean tympanoperiotic complex
William Ary’s MS thesis uses vibrational analysis, finite element modeling, and geometric morphometrics to quantify the relationship between shape and function in cetacean earbones, then mapping that variation onto a phylogeny to see how shape varies within and between groups.
Fin whale baleen SDSU, 2012
(from left: A.. Berta, W. Ary, S. Kienle, N. Zellmer, E. Ekdale, J. Martin, J. El Adli (U. Michigan).
Gray whale head dissection SDSU, April, 2012
(from left: J. Martin, T. Cranford, K. Albertine (editor Anatomical Record), Witmer’s tech, T. Deméré, J. Reidenberg (Mt Sinai Medical School), E. Ekdale, J. El Adli, W. Ary, L. Witmer (Ohio Univ. Medical School) , N. Zellmer, 2 anatomy students and S. Kienle.
Former MS Students:
Peter Adam PADAM@email@example.com
MS research involved mapping feeding and locomotor characters onto a phylogeny
of pinnipeds. Peter earned a Ph.D. in 2007 from the University of California,
Los Angeles and he is an Assistant Professor, Department of Biology, Northwest
Missouri State University, Maryville, Missouri.
Celia Barroso’s MS thesis (co-chaired by
Ted Cranford) completed in Fall, 2010 involved investigation
of the anatomy and evolution of mandibular shape across the Odontoceti using
x-ray CT and geometric morphometrics (Barroso et al., 2012). The catalyst for
this study was the recent discovery (Cranford et al. 2008) that sounds are received
through an "open door" of bone on the posteriomedial aspect of the
mandibles. Celia is working for an environmental consulting firm in the LA
completed a MS in 2007. His research was a comprehensive morphological study
of balaenoid phylogeny including extant species and several well known fossil
taxa. He also evaluated the origin and diversification of balaenoids through
time in the context of a phylogenetic framework (Churchill et al., 2011). Morgan
is a Ph.D. student in the Clementz lab at the University of Wyoming, Laramie,
Lisa Cooper firstname.lastname@example.org
completed a MS in 2004. Her research was an evaluation of the phylogenetic and
functional significance of the forelimb in mysticetes. In addition to forelimb
osteology, the soft tissue anatomy of several extant species were examined
using dissection and histology. Lisa completed a Ph.D. in the Thewissen lab at
Kent State University, Ohio and a postdoc in the Sears lab at University of
Illinois, Champaign-Urbana, Illinois. Lisa is currently an Assistant Professor
in the Department of Anatomy and Neurobiology, Northeastern Ohio Medical
University, Rootstown , OH
completed a MS in 2005. Her research was a comprehensive morphological study
of phocoenids (porpoises) including extant species and a few well know fossil
species. She also considered the origin and diversification of phocoenids
through time within the context of the phylogenetic framework. Liliana
completed a Ph.D. in the Department of Anatomy and Cell Biology at the Brody
School of Medicine, East Carolina University, Greenville, North Carolina. She
is currently a postdoc at
Carrie Fyler email@example.com
completed a MS in 2003. Her research was a phylogenetic analysis of monk seals
using molecular sequence data. This phylogenetic framework was then used to
consider the historical biogeography of the group. Carrie completed a Ph.D. in
the Caira lab at the University of Connecticut. She is teaching at Montclair
Kimberly Academy in Montclair, New
Frances Johnson firstname.lastname@example.org
Fran completed a MS in 2007. Her
research was a phylogenetic study of living South American foxes based on
morphology (cranial, dental, postcranial, soft anatomical characters) using
parsimony and Bayesian analyses. The origin and radiation of South American
foxes was considered in an ecologic and evolutionary context. Fran is in
Veterinary school at UC Davis.
completed a MS in 2009. Her research was on the comparative anatomy and
evolutionary history of suction feeding in cetaceans with emphasis on the gray
whale. Cassie is employed by an environmental consulting firm in the LA area.
Mandy Keogh email@example.com Mandy
completed a MS in 2006. Her
comparative histological examination of the corpus callosum morphometry
(relative size, fiber density) in representative odontocetes consider in both
phylogenetic and functional contexts.
a Ph.D. from the University of Alaska, Fairbanks and is now employed as a
Research Scientist at Mystic Aquarium, Connecticut.
Sarah completed a MS in 2013. Her
research is a comparative analysis
of the four feeding types (suction feeding, grip and tear feeding, pierce
feeding, and filter feeding) employed in extant phocids (seals) using 3D
morphometrics and comparative phylogenetic analyses. Quantitative feeding
characters will be used to examine type(s) of feeding in stem phocids to
understand the evolutionary origins of each feeding strategy. Sarah will
be a Ph.D student in the Costa lab at UC Santa Cruz in Fall, 2013.
will complete a MS in Fall, 2012. Her MS thesis investigates the evolutionary history of balaenopterid
(rorquals) whales using morphology and divergence dating. Also, included is
description and addition into the phylogenetic analysis of a new fossil
balaenopterid from the Pliocene San Diego Formation. Jessica is employed as an
instructor in the Department of Biology, University of Great Falls, Great
(Rocky) completed a MS in 2005. His research mapped characters related to
feeding morphology, behavior and diet onto a phylogeny of mysticetes. Rocky completed
a Ph.D. in the Gatesy lab at the University of California, Riverside and is now
a postdoc at the University of London.
Megan McKenna firstname.lastname@example.org
completed a MS in 2005. Her research involved detailed morphological
description of the melon among various lineages of odontocetes derived from CT
and function was also considered in an evolutionary context (McKenna et al.,
2011). Megan is completed a Ph.D. in Biological Oceanography from the
University of California, San Diego (Scripps Institute of Oceanography). She
is now employed as a bioacoustician for the National Park Service.
completed a MS in 2007. Her research involved detailed morphological
description of the pterygoid sinus among extant species and a fossil phocoenid
derived from dissections and CT images (Racicot and Berta, in press). The
pterygoid sinus is one component of a complex sinus system associated with
sound production and reception. She considered the evolution of the pterygoid
sinus among phocoenids and evaluated its phylogenetic and functional significance.
Rachel is a Ph.D. student in the Gauthier lab at Yale University.
Amanda Rychel email@example.com
completed a MS in 2002. Her research used both mitochondrial genes and a
nuclear marker to reconstruct phylogenetic relationships among mysticetes.
Amanda completed a Ph.D. in the Swalla lab at the University of Washington and a
postdoc at the UW. She is currently employed at Stratos Genomics, Seattle, WA.
Alex Sanchez firstname.lastname@example.org
completed a MS in 2007. His thesis investigated forelimb osteology and
muscular anatomy of representative odontocetes in an evolutionary context.
Alex is currently teaching part-time at Mira Costa College in southern
Breda Walsh email@example.com
completed a MS in 2006. Her research was a comparative morphologic study of
growth patterns in mysticetes based on ontogenetic stages of cranial
ossification among extant species and several fossil species. Relative age
determinations were based on sequence of cranial suture closure. Breda is
employed at a research lab at UC San Diego.
Josh completed a MS thesis in Fall, 2008 on the anatomy and evolution of
aquatic locomotion in walruses. He investigated fore and hind limb osteology and myology in the
walrus using dissection, x-ray and MRI imaging. The evolution of locomotion in fossil and modern walruses and other
pinnipeds was also considered. Josh is in Veterinary school in Pomona, CA.
Samantha Young firstname.lastname@example.org
Samantha completed a MS thesis in Fall, 2011. Her project examined the anatomy (including SEM and morphometrics) and evolution of baleen. She also investigated baleen (bristle morphology) and its correlation with prey type. She is employed in the Education Department at the San Diego Zoo Institute for Conservation Research.
Representative Publications (last 5
J.H. Geisler, J. Changa, C. Buell, A. Berta, R.W. Meredith, M.S. Springer, and
M. R. McGowen (2013). A phylogenetic blueprint for a modern whale. Mol.
Phylog. Evol. 66(2); 479-506.
Racicot, R. and A. Berta (2013).
Comparative morphology of true porpoise (Cetacea: Phocoenidae) pterygoid
sinuses: phylogenetic and functional implications. Journal of Morphology 274(1):
Appeltans, W. and 100+ authors including A.
Berta (2012). The magnitude of global marine species diversity. Current
Biology 23(4): 2189-2202.
Berta, A. and M. Churchill (2012).
Pinniped taxonomy: review of the evidence for description of currently recognized
pinniped species and subspecies. Mammal Review 42:207-234.
Liwanag, H.E.M., A.
Berta, D.P. Costa, M. Aubrey and T.M. Williams (2012). Morphological and
thermal properties of mammalian insulation: the evolution of fur for aquatic
living. Biological Journal of the Linnean Society 104(4): 926-939.
Liwanag, H.E.M., A. Berta, D.P. Costa, S.M. Budge,
and T.M. Williams (2012) Morphological and thermal properties of mammalian
insulation: the evolutionary transition to blubber in pinnipeds. Biological
Journal of the Linnean Society 107(4): 774-787.
T.W. Cranford and A. Berta (2012). Shape analysis of odontocete mandibles:
functional and evolutionary implications. Journal of Morphology 273:1021-1030.
Berta, A. (2012). Return to the Sea:
the Life and Evolutionary Times of Marine Mammals. University of California
Press, Berkeley, CA, 224 pp.
Berta, A. (2011). (Review of). Carnivoran
Evolution (eds. A. Goswami and A. Friscia), Cambridge University Press, Systematic
Biology 60(2): 241-243.
Churchill, M., A. Berta, and T. Deméré. (2011).
The systematics of right whales (Mysticeti: Balaenidae). Marine Mammal
Ekdale, E., A Berta, and T. Deméré (2011).
The comparative osteology of the petrotympanic complex in extant baleen whales
(Cetacea: Mysticeti). PLoS ONE 6(6): e21311.doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0021311.
Walsh, B. and A. Berta (2011). Occipital
ossification of balaenopteroid mysticetes. The Anatomical Record doi:
McKenna, M.F., T.W. Cranford, N.D.
Peyenson, and A. Berta (2011). Comparative morphology of the odontocete melon:
implications for sound production and evolutionary interpretations. Marine
Mammal Science 28(4): 690-713..
Galatius, A., A. Berta, M.S. Frandsen,
and N.P. Goodall. (2011). Interspecific variation in ontogeny and
paedomorphosis among phocoenids. Journal of Morphology 272(2): 136-148.
Johnston, C. and A. Berta (2010).
Comparative anatomy and evolutionary history of suction feeding in cetaceans. Marine
Mammal Science, doi 10.1111/j.1748-7692.2010.00420.
Sanchez, A. and A. Berta (2010). The
comparative anatomy and evolution of the odontocete flipper. Marine Mammal
Science, 26(1): 140-160.
Johnston, C., T. Deméré, A. Berta, J. St.
Leger and J. Yonas (2010). Observations on the musculoskeletal anatomy of the
head of a neonate gray whale (Eschrichtius robustus). Marine Mammal
Science, 26(1): 186-194.
Berta, A. (2009). Systematics, pp.
1148-1152, Encyclopedia of Marine Mammals (W.F. Perrin, B. Wursig, and
J.G.M. Thewissen, eds.), 2nd ed., Academic Press, San Diego.
Berta, A. (2009). Pinnipedia,
Overview, pp. 878-885 Encyclopedia of Marine Mammals (W.F. Perrin, B.
Wursig, and J.G.M. Thewissen, eds.), 2nd ed., Academic Press, San
Berta, A. (2009). Pinniped evolution, pp.
861-868, Encyclopedia of Marine Mammals (W.F. Perrin, B. Wursig, and
J.G.M. Thewissen, eds.), 2nd ed., Academic Press, San Diego,
Berta, A. and T.A. Deméré. (2009).
Mysticetes, Evolution, pp. pp. 749-753, Encyclopedia of Marine Mammals (W.F. Perrin, B. Wursig, and J.G.M. Thewissen, eds.), 2nd ed., Academic Press, San Diego, CA.
Coordinator, Joint Doctoral Program in Evolutionary Biology
Ph.D. University of California, Berkeley
Department of Biology
San Diego State University
5500 Campanile Dr.
San Diego, CA 92182-4614