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Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History

Department ofVertebrate Zoology

Division of Mammals

Tarsius bancanus
bar Graham Slater
    Graham J. Slater
    Peter Buck Postdoctoral Fellow

  • Phone: (202)633-1316
  • Fax: (202)633-0182
  • E-mail: slaterg[at]

  • Mailing Address:
    Smithsonian Institution
    PO Box 37012, MRC 121
    Washington, DC 20013-7012

  • Shipping Address:
    Smithsonian Institution
    National Museum of Natural History
    1000 Constitution Ave, NW
    Washington, DC 20004

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Curriculum vitae
Personal research website


Ph.D. (Ecology and Evolutionary Biology): University of California, Los Angeles, 2009
M.S. (Taxonomy and Biodiversity): Imperial College, London, 2003
B.S. (Zoology): University College London, 2001

Research Interests

The underlying aim of my research is to understand tempo and mode in evolution. Why are do some lineages have so many species, while others have few? Why are some groups very diverse in their morphology and ecology while others are more conservative? How did higher-level groups, like mammals, evolve – did they diversify rapidly into pretty much their current forms or did they evolve gradually through time? These questions form the foundations of macroevolutionary biology. My macroevolutionary research has a particular focus on the order Carnivora – a group of mammals that are diverse in their morphology, ecology and number of species. I utilize a toolkit of approaches, including morphological and molecular systematics, phylogenetic comparative methods, functional morphology, and biomechanics, to study evolutionary patterns in carnivores.

My research as a Buck Fellow in the Departments of Paleobiology and Mammals at the National Museum of Natural History is focused on the diversification of fossil and living members of the dog family (Canidae). Living dogs exhibit a diverse range of ecologies and morphologies, but the fossil members of this group are even more variable. I will be assembling a complete phylogeny of fossil and living canids and using this as a framework for testing questions about the tempo and mode of ecomorphological evolution in this outstanding group of carnivores.

Recent Publications

Rabosky, D. L., G. J. Slater, and M. E. Alfaro. 2012. Clade age and species richness are decoupled across the Eukaryotic tree of life. PLoS Biology, 10(8): e1001381.

Meloro, C., and G. J. Slater. 2012. Covariation in the skull modules of cats: the challenge of growing saber-like canines. Journal of Vertebrate Paleontology, 32: 677-685.

Slater, G. J., L. J. Harmon, D. Wegmann, P. Joyce, L. J. Revell, and M. E. Alfaro. 2012. Fitting models of continuous trait evolution to incomplete comparative data using Approximate Bayesian Computation. Evolution, 66: 752-762.

Jaffe, A., G. J. Slater, and M. E. Alfaro. 2011. The evolution of island gigantism and body size variation in tortoises and turtles. Biology Letters, 7: 558-561.

Van Valkenburgh, B., A. Curtis, J. Samuels, D. Bird, B. Fulkerson, J. Meachen-Samuels, and G. J. Slater. 2011. Aquatic adaptions in the nose of carnivorans: evidence from the turbinates. Journal of Anatomy, 218: 298-310.

Slater, G. J., B. Figueirido, L. Louis, P. Yang, and B. Van Valkenburgh. 2010. Biomechanical consequences of rapid evolution in the polar bear lineage. PLoS One, 5(11): e13870.

Figueirido, B., F. J. Serrano-Alarcón, G. J. Slater, and P. Palmqvist. 2010. Shape at the cross-roads: homoplasy and history in the evolution of the carnivoran skull towards herbivory. Journal of Evolutionary Biology, 23: 2579-2594.

Slater, G. J., S. A. Price, F. Santini, and M. E. Alfaro. 2010. Diversity versus disparity and the radiation of modern cetaceans. Proceedings of the Royal Society B, 277: 3097-3104.

Slater, G. J., and B. Van Valkenburgh. 2009. Allometry and performance: the evolution of skull form and function in felids. Journal of Evolutionary Biology, 22: 2278-2287.

Slater, G. J., O. Thalmann, J. A. Leonard, R. M. Schweizer, K.-P. Koepfli, J. P. Pollinger, N. J. Rawlence, J. J. Austin, A. Cooper, and R. K. Wayne. 2009. Evolutionary history of the Falklands wolf. Current Biology, 19: 937-938.

Slater, G. J., E. R. Dumont, and B. Van Valkenburgh. 2009. Implications of predatory specialization for skull form and function in canids. Journal of Zoology, 278: 181-188.

Dumont, E. R., I. Grosse, and G. J. Slater. 2009. Requirements for comparing the performance of finite element models of biological structures. Journal of Theoretical Biology, 256: 96-103.

Slater, G. J., and B. Van Valkenburgh. 2008. Long in the tooth: evolution of sabertooth cat cranial shape. Paleobiology, 34: 403-419.

Koepfli, K.-P., K. Deere, G. J. Slater, C. Begg, K. Begg, L. Grassman, M. Lucherini, G. Veron, and R. K. Wayne. 2008. Multigene phylogeny of the Mustelidae: resolving relationships, tempo and biogeographic history of a mammalian adaptive radiation. BMC Biology, 6: 10. doi:10.1186/1741-7007-6-10

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