Carl P. Qualls

Professor

Teaching Interests

BSC 361/L Comparative Anatomy

BSC 407/L/507/L Biology of Vertebrates

BSC 417/L/517/L Herpetology

BSC 494/594 Experimental Design and Data Analysis in Biology

Research Interests

My primary interest is in herpetology, including many aspects of the ecology, evolution, and conservation of reptiles and amphibians. Past, present, and anticipated future research projects in my lab cover many diverse aspects of the biology of these ectothermic vertebrates. Areas of particular interest to me include reproductive biology and life history evolution; thermoregulation and thermal biology; phenotypic plasticity and embryonic development; behavioral ecology; ecological impacts of invasive species; and the application of research on these topics to the conservation of native amphibians and reptiles. I find that the most interesting and rewarding studies usually span multiple areas of inquiry, synthesizing various aspects of an organism's biology. My research background reflects this diversity of interests, and multidisciplinary approach, including studies of the following: life history evolution and the evolution of viviparity in Australian and North American lizards; phenotypic plasticity and the influence of incubation temperature on reptile eggs and neonates; and the ecology and management of the invasive Brown Treesnake (Boiga irregularis) on the tropical Pacific island of Guam.

My graduate students and I are currently pursuing the following research projects:

Egg Hatching Success and Recruitment of Threatened Gopher Tortoises, Gopherus polyphemus, in South Mississippi. One of the largest remaining populations of this federally and state protected tortoise appears to be suffering from a lack of recruitment and declining in number. The low rate of recruitment is largely due to an extremely low hatching success rate for eggs laid by these tortoises. A large majority of the eggs produced in this population fail to hatch successfully, even when their nests are protected from predation. This study is examining the hatching success of tortoise eggs, under different conditions in the laboratory and in natural nests, to determine what factors are responsible for eggs failing to hatch.

Inventory of the Reptiles and Amphibians of the Gulf Islands National Seashore. The Gulf Islands National Seashore is a national park that encompasses barrier island and mainland coastal habitats, along the Gulf Coast, from Mississippi to Florida. The habitats protected in this park are of great conservation value, because so much coastal habitat has been lost to coastal development and erosion. This project consists of extensive field surveys to determine what species of reptile and amphibian are present in each of the 10 park units, which habitats each is associated with, and the estimated abundance of each species. The information gathered will allow the National Park Service to better conserve the native species present in the park, including several rare and protected species of reptile and amphibian.

Current Graduate Students

Representative Publications

Qualls, C. P. & R. M. Andrews. 1999. Cold climates and the evolution of viviparity in reptiles: cold incubation temperatures produce poor-quality offspring in the lizard, Sceloporus virgatus. Biological Journal of the Linnean Society 67:353-376. 

Qualls, C. P. & R. M. Andrews. 1999. Maternal body volume constrains water uptake by lizard eggs in utero. Functional Ecology 13:845-851. 

Qualls, C. P. & R. Shine. 1998. Lerista bougainvillii, a case study for the evolution of viviparity in reptiles. Journal of Evolutionary Biology 11:63-78. 

Qualls, C. P. & R. Shine. 1996. Reconstructing ancestral reaction norms: an example using the evolution of reptilian viviparity. Functional Ecology 10:688-697.