Button to scroll to the top of the page.
Ledesma, David Treviño

David Ledesma

Teaching Assistant BIO
Biology Instruction Office



ledesma-david@utexas.edu


Postal Address
2415 SPEEDWAY
AUSTIN, TX 78712

ABOUT ME

I'm currently a PhD. candidate in my 4th year at the University of Texas at Austin. I was born and raised in Richmond, TX. As a kid, I would often explore nature while catching ribbon snakes, earth snakes, anoles, geckos, and other herpetofauna. These experiences, along with my visits to the Houston Museum of Natural Science, instilled in me a fascination for reptiles and amphibians as well as the history of life on earth. In my free time, I like to play soccer and continue to go out into nature to find critters.

OSTEOLOGICAL VARIATION IN EXTANT AND FOSSIL HERPETOFAUNA

Patterns of osteological variation in extant herpetofauna are poorly understood for many species. Documenting and studying these patterns of variation is paramount for interpreting the fossil record. I aim to further our understanding of osteological variation in extant species and apply this knowledge for studying fossils.

 

RESPONSES OF FOSSIL HERPETOFAUNA TO ENVIRONMENTAL CHANGE

With many extant species facing the threat of extinction in a rapidly changing world, it is imperative that we understand how extant biota respond to environmental changes. The fossil record gives us a glimpse into how past biota responded to changes and can inform modern conservation efforts. I study how past herpetofauna responded to environmental changes in order to provide insights on how we may expect current populations to respond.

 

UTILIZING ANCIENT DNA FOR UNDERSTANDING PAST ORGANISMS

Often, morphological identifications of fossil herpetofauna can only be made reliably above the species level. I use ancient DNA as a tool for uncovering past diversity that is not available when using morphology alone. In addition, I use aDNA as a method for reconstructing past population dynamics in herpetofaunal species in response to a changing environment.

Scarpetta SG, Ledesma DT (2022) A strikingly ornamented fossil alligator lizard (Squamata: Abronia) from the Miocene of California. Zoological Journal of the Linnean Society zlac024.

Ledesma DT, Ayala A, Kemp ME (2022) Morphometric analyses of the vertebrae of Ambystoma (Tschudi, 1838) and the implications for identification of fossil salamanders. Journal of Morphology 283: 653–676.

Scarpetta SG, Ledesma DT, Bell CJ (2021) A new extinct species of alligator lizard (Squamata: Elgaria) and an expanded perspective on the osteology and phylogeny of Gerrhonotinae. BMC Ecology and Evolution 21:184.

Ledesma DT, Scarpetta SG, Bell CJ (2021) Variation in the skulls of Elgaria and Gerrhonotus (Anguidae, Gerrhonotinae) and implications for phylogenetics and fossil identification. PeerJ 9:e11602.

Ledesma DT, Scarpetta SG (2018) The skull of the gerrhonotine lizard Elgaria panamintina (Squamata: Anguidae) PLoS ONE 13(6): e0199584.

Scarpetta SG, Ledesma DT, Llauger FO, White BA (2020) Evolution of North American lizards. eLS 1: 705–717.

Ledesma DT (2020) Potomotyphlus: Potomotyphlus kaupii. Catalogue of American Amphibians and Reptiles (CAAR). 23 pp.