D. Luke Mahler, Principal Investigator


I’m an Assistant Professor in the Department of Ecology & Evolutionary Biology at the University of Toronto.

Previously, I worked as a postdoctoral fellow in the lab of Rich Glor in the Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology at the University of Kansas.  For the three years preceding that, I was based at UC Davis, first as the CPB Postdoctoral Fellow, and then as a postdoc with Peter Wainwright. Prior to that, I did my Ph.D. with Jonathan Losos at Harvard University. For more about me, please download my CV, and check out my Research page.

Current Lab Members

Alex Tinius, EEB Postdoctoral Fellow

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Despite his love for wild life and photography Alex has never caught a single anole on camera. As it turns out his study subjects avoid the cold and temperate climates that Alex calls home. Following his Ph.D. thesis under the guidance of Tony Russell (UofCalgary) his main interests lie in the form, function, and evolution of the appendicular girdles. Alex viciously exploits anole diversity to investigate causal relationships between the variation in skeletal morphology and associated differences in ecology and habitat use. A few of his more common-sense findings feature online on his website.

Graduate Students

Ken Toyama, PhD Student


Ken joined the lab in the Fall of 2017 to start his PhD studies. His main interests are macroevolution and ecomorphology, which he developed working mainly with squamates. Ken studied tropidurine lizards in South America and European herpetofauna of the Mediterranean basin previously, and at present he is studying the evolution of sexual dimorphism in anoles. You can find more about Ken’s research and interests on his personal website.

Jill Sanderson, PhD Student


Jill began her MSc studies with the lab in the Fall of 2018 where she started studying signal function and evolution in Anolis lizards. She has a keen interest in fitness tradeoffs, inter-and intraspecific interactions, and macreoevolution. Jill transferred to the PhD program in the summer of 2019. While her MSc project focused primarily on pattern complexity, throughout her PhD she will be introducing objective measures of colour to explore the evolution and diversity of anole dewlap colour pattern complexity.

Rowan French


Rowan began her PhD in September 2019 and is working jointly in the Mahler and Rowe labs. As an undergraduate at the University of Alberta, she worked on the morphology, molecular systematics, and conservation genetics of several arthropod taxa, including spruce budworm moths, short-tailed whipscorpions, and tiger beetles. She also studied exaggerated traits in male longhorned beetles (Cerambycidae) and remains fascinated by patterns of sexual size dimorphism (SSD) in that group. In particular, she is interested in (I) how exaggerated male traits evolved in cerambycids, (II) why species vary in their degree of SSD, and (III) how the evolution of SSD might have influenced lineage diversification. Rowan plans to tackle those questions during her PhD and looks forward to using diverse morphological, comparative phylogenetic, and experimental approaches in her two host labs.

Gavia Lertzman-Lepofsky, MSc Student


Gavia joined the lab in the fall of 2019 to start her Masters. She is interested in macroecology and understanding patterns of diversity across landscapes. She completed her undergraduate degree at Simon Fraser University in Vancouver and has worked on projects that study the effects of climate change on the physiological limits of alpine amphibians, the patterns of genome size evolution among the salamanders, and the cultural and environmental factors affecting the growth of clams in archeological clam gardens. Gavia is excited to begin her work in the Mahler lab and is looking forwards to conducting fieldwork in a place without snow! When she’s not in the lab, catch her playing violin in several musical projects that span genres.

Undergraduate Students

Siobhan Drysdale

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Siobhan is a fifth-year undergraduate student who is currently working on an independent research project in the lab. She is studying the relationship between dewlap and dorsal colouration in Anolis lizards.

Daniel Zhang

Daniel Zhang Lab Photo

Daniel is a third-year undergraduate student. He started working in the lab as a work-study student in Summer 2018, and he is currently conducting an independent undergraduate research project on the evolution of limb bone shape across habitat gradients within four widespread species of Anolis lizard.

Previous Lab Members

Chris Boccia

Chris defended his MSc in the Fall of 2018; his thesis focused on testing for convergent evolution in semi-aquatic anoles. Chris travelled to Costa Rica, Mexico, and Colombia to observe and test the swimming performance of 4 phylogenetically distinct semi-aquatic anole species.

Edita Folfas

After participating in data collection during the 2018 Mahler Lab field season in Jamaica, Edita worked on an independent undergraduate research project in the lab. She explored the evolution of female-biased sexual size dimorphism in continental Anolis lizards.

Luke Frishkoff

Dr. Luke Owen Frishkoff held one of our department’s prestigious EEB Postdoctoral Fellowships, and he worked jointly with the Mahler Lab and the lab of Marie-Josée Fortin. Luke’s research focused on how species’ evolutionary histories shape their responses to human-induced habitat change, and he applied this perspective to study how communities of Caribbean Anolis lizards change as they respond to habitat modification and a warmer climate. You can find more about Luke’s work at his website.

James Boyko

James Boyko, MSc, joined the lab in Fall 2015 and pursued his interests in macroevolution by studying morphological evolution in Lesser Antillean Anolis lizards.

Michael Foisy

Michael, MSc, was an NSERC-funded Master’s student working jointly in the Mahler and Rodd Labs. Michael used phylogenetic models and experiments to explore how female mating biases may precede, and subsequently facilitate, the evolution of male ornaments in poeciliid fishes. Michael also has a fondness for bees; his favourite species is Amegilla murrayensis.


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