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Biological Sciences

Dr. Higgins

Christopher L. Higgins, PhD

Director, Timberlake Biological Field Station

Professor, Department of Biological Sciences 

PI, REU Site: Restoring cattle ranches for sustainable land and water resources

  • 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)

Courses Taught

I use Blackboard 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!


Tropical Ecology students in Costa Rica giving back by helping maintain hiking trails.

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

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 on a suspension bridge crossing the Sarapiqui River in Costa Rica.

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.

Selected Publications

* - student authors

  • Presley, S.J. L.M. Cisneros, C.L. Higgins, B.T. Klingbeil, S.M. Scheiner, and M.R. Willig. 2018. Phylogenetic and functional underdispersion in Neotropical phyllostomid bat communities. Biotropica 50:135-145.
  • Grimshaw, J.R.* and C.L. Higgins. 2017. Environmental correlates of phylogenetic structure in Mexican bat communities. Journal of Mammalogy 98:1657-1666
  • Lingbeek, B.J.*, C.L. Higgins, J.P. Muir, D.H. Kattes, and T.W. Schwertner. 2017. Arthropod diversity and assemblage structure response to deforestation and desertification in the Sahel of western Senegal. Global Ecology and Conservation 11:165-176.
  • Medina Torres, K.M.* and C.L. Higgins. 2016. Taxonomic and functional organization in metacommunity structure of stream-fish assemblages among and within river basins in Texas. Aquatic Ecology 50:247-259.
  • 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.

See Publications page for complete list of publications.

Selected Presentations

* - student authors

  • Castaneda, E.* and C.L. Higgins. 2017. Phylogenetic diversity of small mammals in a highly fragmented forest. 64th Annual Meeting of the Southwestern Association of Naturalists. Lawton, OK
  • Jensen, J.R.* and C.L. Higgins. 2016. Examining species richness and phylogenetic diversity in bat assemblages across Mexico. 96th Annual Meeting of the American Society of Mammoligsts. Minneapolis, MN
  • Lingbeek, B.*,  C.L. Higgins, D.H. Kattes, J. Muir, and T.W. Schwertner. 2016. Arthropod diversity response to deforestation and desertification in the Sahel. 63rd Annual Meeting of the Southwestern Association of Naturalists. Mexico City, Mexico
  • 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

See Presentations page for complete list of presentations.