Mark D. Scherz

Mark D. Scherz

Tenure Track Assistant Professor

My research interests span macroevolution, convergent evolution, bio- and phylogeography, speciation, and systematics. I am particularly interested in the diversity of gigantic pseudo-insular systems, such as Madagascar and Africa’s Great Lakes, the processes involved in the generation and maintenance of that diversity, and the repeated evolution of particular phenotypes, especially extremely reduced body size.

Primary fields of research

My research spans a wide range in scope, broadened still further by many collaborations. Previous work has included discoveries of fluorescence in chameleons and geckos, biogeography, phylogenomics and phylogenetics, descriptive and functional osteology, natural history, taxonomy, museomics, and ecomorphological evolution. My particular expertise is in the herpetofauna of Madagascar, where I have been conducting research since 2005, but I also dabble in reptiles and amphibians from across the world, and also a little bit in cichlid fishes.

One of my recent research foci has been the evolutionary systematics and taxonomy of microhylid frogs of the subfamily Cophylinae. These diverse and cryptic frogs present problems of identification which drive the search for new methodologies in taxonomy. I use micro-Computed Tomography (micro-CT) to examine osteology, and integrate descriptive and comparative osteology into taxonomic revisions and evolutionary reconstructions. I am currently also co-PI on a German Research Foundation (DFG) funded grant that aims to sequence thousands of nuclear genes from primary type material of these frogs, and integrate those muscomic data with micro-CT and other morphological data for species delimitation and taxonomy, as part of the DFG Priority Programme Taxon-OMICS.

Other taxa I am actively working on include mantellid frogs, chameleons, pseudoxyrhophiid snakes, and Lygodactylus geckos, especially in close collaboration with Miguel Vences (Technical University of Braunschweig) and Frank Glaw (Bavarian State Collection of Zoology, Munich).

Selected publications

  1. Extreme miniaturization of a new amniote vertebrate and insights into the evolution of genital size in chameleons

    Glaw, F., Köhler, J., Hawlitschek, O., Ratsoavina, F. M., Rakotoarison, A., Scherz, Mark D. & Vences, M., 2021, In: Scientific Reports. 11, 14 p., 2522.

    Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articleResearchpeer-review

  2. Neon-green fluorescence in the desert gecko Pachydactylus rangei caused by iridophores

    Prötzel, D., Heß, M., Schwager, M., Glaw, F. & Scherz, Mark D., 2021, In: Scientific Reports. 11, 10 p., 297.

    Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articleResearchpeer-review

  3. Deconstructing the Gestalt: New concepts and tests of homology, as exemplified by a re-conceptualization of “microstomy” in squamates

    Strong, C. R. C., Scherz, Mark D. & Caldwell, M. W., 2021, In: Anatomical Record. 304, 10, p. 2303-2351 49 p.

    Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articleResearchpeer-review

  4. ‘Barcode fishing’ for archival DNA from historical type material overcomes taxonomic hurdles, enabling the description of a new frog species

    Scherz, Mark D., Rasolonjatovo, S. M., Köhler, J., Rancilhac, L., Rakotoarison, A., Raselimanana, A. P., Ohler, A., Preick, M., Hofreiter, M., Glaw, F. & Vences, M., 2020, In: Scientific Reports. 10, 17 p., 19109.

    Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articleResearchpeer-review

  5. Morphological and ecological convergence at the lower size limit for vertebrates highlighted by five new miniaturised microhylid frog species from three different Madagascan genera

    Scherz, Mark D., Hutter, C. R., Rakotoarison, A., Riemann, J. C., Rödel, M., Ndriantsoa, S. H., Glos, J., Roberts, S. H., Crottini, A., Vences, M. & Glaw, F., 2019, In: PLoS ONE. 14, 3, 45 p., e0213314.

    Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articleResearchpeer-review

ID: 283954012