Staff Profile

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Bruce Patterson

MacArthur Curator of Mammals

Negaunee Integrative Research Center
Environmental Conservation
Evolutionary Biology

I study the diversification, distribution and natural history of mammals. Over time and through stimulating collaborations, my taxonomic breadth and geographic interests have grown. I am now involved in major projects in both South America and Africa. My shorthand for my interests: rats, bats, and cats.

For decades now, I have used museum specimens to study the systematics and biogeography of Neotropical mammals. Collaborating with scientists and students in Colombia, Ecuador, Peru, Bolivia, Brazil, Argentina, and Chile, I have worked throughout the Andes, Amazônia, and in Atlantic, Valdivian, and Magellanic Forests. As we document some of the world's richest, most highly endemic faunas, we regularly discover and describe new species of bats, rodents and marsupials, and use them in regional and continental reconstructions of phylogeny and biogeography. This program has offered abundant training opportunities for American and Latin American students, both in the lab and in the field. Much of my recent work on Neotropical faunas has been in collaboration with former "sandwich fellows" Renan Maestri, Anderson Feijo, Carla Hendges, Rafaela Missagia, Roger Guimarães and others.

Since 2011, I have also been working on a parallel long-term project, The Bats of Kenya, with colleagues Paul Webala, Terry Demos, Carl Dick, Holly Lutz, and Daniela Rossoni. We are documenting the distribution and status of more than 110 species of bats known from Kenya and shedding light on their current status and ecological roles. Surveys of Afrotropical Rhinolophus (Rhinolophidae), Hipposideros, Doryrhina, and Macronycteris (Hipposideridae), Triaenops and Paratriaenops (Rhinonycteridae), Nycteris (Nycteridae), Otomops (Molossidae), Miniopterus (Miniopteridae), Scotophilus, Myotis, Pipistrellus, Nycticeinops, Neoromicia, Pseudoromicia gen. nov., Laephotis, and Afronycteris gen. nov. (Vespertilionidae) all show that the diversity of bats in East Africa is grossly underestimated and includes many cryptic lineages in need of systematic attention. This phylogenetic work lays the groundwork for integrative taxonomic revisions of these taxa.

Collecting parasites in the course of this work led to my interest in Host-parasite coevolution. Ectoparasites recovered from mammals (mainly bats) are used to reconstruct the radiation of parasite groups and to assess their distributions across hosts and geography. These studies identify factors governing the distribution, abundance, and host specificity of parasites. Together with Carl Dick (Western Kentucky U.), Katharina Dittmar (SUNY Buffalo and NSF), and Megan Porter (U. Hawaii at Manoa), we are pursuing a broad range of studies on the ecology, coevolution, and phylogeny of these interesting flies. Former Postdoc Holly Lutz's program looking at endosymbionts and microbiomes has greatly expanded the scope of my interests.

A research program that I have largely concluded focused on the Tsavo lions, infamous as man-eaters a century ago but more remarkable I think because many of them lack manes. In a series of papers, I explored the morphology, genetics, behavior, and ecology of lions in SE Kenya with Samuel Kasiki (Kenya Wildlife Service) and Alex Mwazo (Tsavo East), Roland Kays (NC State) and others. Our principal aim has been to understand the ecology of this distinctive woodland lion population and gather information to mitigate the impacts of its depredations on livestock. From 2002-2009, this project had the help of >500 volunteers from 40 countries through the Earthwatch Institute. Ongoing work has focused on studies of the Field Museum's famous man-eaters, including recent work on their teeth with Larisa DeSantis, as well as studies of lion phylogeography with various colleagues, including Jean Dubach (Loyola Univ.), Laura Bertola (Univ. Copenhagen) and Ellie Armstrong (Stanford Univ.).


As detailed in Training, interactions with undergraduate and graduate students as well as postdocs enrich, extend, and complement these studies. Each research arena offers opportunities for student research projects and post-graduate collaborations alike.





Dr. B.D. Patterson, MacArthur Curator of Mammals, Negaunee Integrative Research Center, Field Museum of Natural History, 1400 S. Lake Shore Dr, Chicago IL 60605-2496 USA, bpatterson[at], Tel: 001.312.665.7750, Fax: 001.312.665.7754

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