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Biological Sciences

Dr. Higgins

Christopher L. Higgins, PhD

Director, Biological Field Station at Timberlake Ranch

Associate Professor, Department of Biological Sciences 

  • Ph.D., Texas Tech University, 2005
  • M.S., Texas Tech University, 2001
  • B.S., Angelo State University, 1999

Phone: 254-968-9019
Office: SCI 227

Curriculum Vitae (PDF)

 Facebook Twitter feed for Higgins Research Lab

Courses Taught

I use BB logo in all my classes to: (1) post grades - student grades are confidential and Blackboard provides password protected access to their grades, (2) distribute materials - I use Blackboard as a means to distribute handouts or other lecture related materials, (3) engage students - in my experience students who routinely engage in the learning process outside of the classroom outperform those who do not. In addition to simple engagement through the use of online quizzes, I like using Blackboard to create various discussion boards that help promote critical thinking, and (4) mobility - as society becomes more dependent on smart phones so have students need for an App based means of access to all course related material and grades. In other words, students can no longer have the excuse of "I didn't know".... they can study "on the go" or from anywhere in the world!


Students from Ichthyology class electrofishing

Fall Spring
Ecology and Evolution (BIOL 353) Ecology and Evolution (BIOL 353)
Ecology (BIOL 401) Ichthyology (BIOL 462)
Research Design and Analysis (BIOL 598) Measuring Biological Diversity (BIOL 590)

Student Research Opportunities

Research is a vital part of a student's education! In addition to personal satisfaction, students gain academic motivation, develop critical thinking abilities, learn problem solving skills, enhance communication proficiency, and increase their scientific understanding. If you are interested in conducting undergraduate research, follow the link below for an application to be a research assistant in my lab. You can also see what other students have done as well.

Student Research

Stefanie injecting VIE tags into minnows


Dr. Higgins holding a Neotoma micropus

Research Interests

Most of my research focuses on how local processes (e.g., behavior, competition, hybridization, parasitism) combine with regional processes (e.g., colonization, environmental filtering, extinction) to determine the distribution and abundance of organisms. It combines experimental and observational approaches, and often uses computer simulations to determine whether empirical observations deviate from null expectations. Currently, there are three foci to my research:

  • Biological Diversity - I am interested in understanding how various dimensions of biodiversity (abundance, functional, and phylogenetic) interact to provide insight into underlying structuring mechanisms.
  • Metacommunity Structure - I am interested in uncovering broad-scale patterns of metacommunity structure and elucidating the underlying mechanisms that give rise to those patterns.
  • Cyprinid Conservation - I am interested in understanding the abiotic factors and biotic interactions that determine the distribution and abundance of North American minnows.

Selected Publications

* - student authors

  • Higgins, C.L., A.R. Love-Snyder*, W.W. Wiegreffe*, and R.S. Pfau.  [accepted]. Lack of hybridization between red and blacktail shiner (Cyprinella lutrensis and C. venusta) in two Texas rivers, but evidence of introgression among three lineages of the C. lutrensis species group. Copeia
  • De la Sancha, N.U., C.L. Higgins, S.J. Presley, and R.E. Strauss. 2014. Metacommunity structure in a highly fragmented forest: has deforestation in the Atlantic Forest altered historic biogeographic patterns?  Diversity and Distributions 20:1058-1070.
  • Munz, J.T.* and C.L. Higgins. 2013. The influence of discharge, photoperiod, and temperature on the reproductive ecology of cyprinids in the Paluxy River, Texas. Aquatic Ecology 47:67-74.
  • Higgins, C.L. 2010. Patterns of functional and taxonomic organization of stream fishes: inferences based on α, β, and γ diversities. Ecography 33:678-687.
  • Presley, S.J., C.L. Higgins, and M.R. Willig. 2010. A comprehensive framework for the evaluation of metacommunity structure. Oikos 119:908-917.

See Publications page for complete list of publications.

Selected Presentations

* - student authors

  • Medina-Torres, K.M.* and C.L. Higgins. 2014. Taxonomic and functional changes in metacommunity striucture of stream-fish assemblages in Texas from 1988-2009. Tarleton State University Research Symposium. Stephenville, TX 
  • Price, C.J.*, J.L. Glass*, C.N. Niebuhr, D.H. Kattes, K.K. Herrmann, T.W. Schwertner, and C.L. Higgins.  2013.  Spatio-temporal dynamics of spinose ear tickstobius megnini) at Fossil Rim Wildlife Center.  4th International Scientific Symposium for PhD Students and Students of Agricultural Colleges.  Bydgoszcz, Poland
  • Kutovoy, G.* and C.L. Higgins. 2013. Experimental studies of shoaling behavior in red shiner (Cyprinella lutrensis) and blacktail shiner (C. venusta).  Texas BioScience Institute – part of NSF-STEP Grant “The Central Texas 2-STEP.”  Temple, TX
  • Weigreffe, W.*, A.R. Love*, C.L. Higgins, and R.S. Pfau. 2013.  Lack of mitochondrial DNA introgression between red and blacktail shiners (Genus Cyprinella) in two Texas River.  60th Annual Meeting of the Southwestern Association of Naturalists. Lake Charles, LA
  • Munz, J.T.* and C.L. Higgins. 2011. Reproductive ecology of cyprinids in the Paluxy River. 58th Annual of the Southwestern Association of Naturalists. Tyler, TX

See Presentations page for complete list of presentations.