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Biological Sciences

Dr. Higgins

Christopher L. Higgins, PhD

Director, Timberlake Biological Field Station

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!

PR students

Tropical Ecology students in Puerto Rico

Fall Spring Summer
Ecology and Evolution (BIOL 3353) Ecology and Evolution (BIOL 3353) Tropical Ecology (BIOL 4390)
Ecology (BIOL 4401) Ichthyology (4462) Ecology (BIOL 4401)
Research Design and Analysis (BIOL 5398) Measuring Biological Diversity (BIOL 5340)

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.


Various pictures of Palo Pinto Mountains State Park


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. 2015. 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 103-272-280.
  • 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

  • de la Sancha, N.U., R. Maestri, S.J. Presley, and C.L. Higgins. 2015. Phylogenetic and functional diversity in a highly fragmented forest system. 95th Annual Meeting of the American Society of Mammalogists. Jacksonville, FL
  • Medina Torres, K.M.* and C.L. Higgins. 2015. Taxonomic and functional changes in the metacommunity structure of stream-fish assemblages in Texas from 1988-2009. 62nd Annual Meeting of the Southwestern Association of Naturalists. San Diego, CA
  • Ruehle, B.*, C.L. Higgins, and K. Herrmann. 2015. The relationship between parasitic infection and reproductive potential of two cyprinids with different reproductive strategies. 62nd Annual Meeting of the Southwestern Association of Naturalists. San Diego, CA
  • Pyle, C.S.* and C.L. Higgins. 2015.  Mammals of Palo Pinto Mountains State Park: the initiation of a long-term survey. 62nd Annual Meeting of the Southwestern Association of Naturalists. San Diego, CA
  • 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.