Sara Ruane

Sara Ruane


sara.ruane [at]



Office Location

409 Boyden Hall

439 Boyden Hall (lab)

My work seeks to simultaneously inform reptile and amphibian systematics while also answering broad, contemporary questions in evolutionary biology. Some of my current research focuses on the phylogenetics of the Malagasy pseudoxyrhophiine snakes, which includes the use of molecular data in the form of next-generation sequencing and traditional Sanger-sequencing approaches, as well as ecological and morphological data to aid in understanding what factors promote speciation in these snakes. I am also working on a project examining the undescribed diversity in the poorly known New Guinea ground snakes, Stegonotus. Upcoming research from the Ruane Lab will include co-historical demography and population genetics of squamates found in New Jersey. While my interests in herpetology are broad, I focus primarily on snakes, especially with respect to systematics, phylogenetics, and phylogeography, as well as ecology. Please see my website for more details on my work and opportunities in the Ruane Lab.


B.S., Biology, UMass-Amherst, 2004

M.S., Biology, University of Central Arkansas, 2007

PhD, Biology: Ecology, Evolution, Behavior, City University of NY, 2013


Ruane, S., & C.C. Austin. 2017. Phylogenomics using formalin-fixed and 100+ year old intractable natural history specimens. In Press, Molecular Ecology Resources.

Burbrink, F.T., Y. Chan, E.A. Myers, S. Ruane, B.T. Smith, & M.J. Hickerson. 2016. Asynchronous demographic responses to Eastern Nearctic Pleistocene climate changes in vertebrate communities. Ecology Letters 9: 1457–1467.

Ruane, S. F.T. Burbrink, B. Randriamahtantsoa, & C.J. Raxworthy. 2016. The cat-eyed snakes of Madagascar: Phylogeny and description of a new species of Madagascarophis (Serpentes: Lamprophiidae) from the tsingy of Ankarana. Copeia 104: 712–721.

Ruane, S., C.J. Raxworthy, A. Lemmon, E. Moriarty-Lemmon, F.T. Burbrink. 2015. Comparing species-tree estimation with large anchored phylogenomic and small Sanger-sequenced molecular datasets: An empirical study on Malagasy pseudoxyrhophiine snakes. BMC Evolutionary Biology 15:221. doi:10.1186/s12862-015-0503-1.

Ruane, S., O. Torres-Carvajal, & F.T. Burbrink. 2015. Independent demographic responses to climate change among temperate and tropical milksnakes (Colubridae: Genus Lampropeltis). PLoS ONE 10(6): e0128543. doi:10.1371/journal. pone.0128543.

Ruane, S. 2015. Using geometric morphometrics for integrative taxonomy: An examination of head shapes of milksnakes (genus Lampropeltis). Zoological Journal of the Linnean Society 174: 394–413.

*Ruane, S., R. Bryson, Jr., R.A. Pyron, & F.T. Burbrink. 2014. Coalescent species delimitation in Milksnakes (genus Lampropeltis) and impacts on phylogenetic comparative analyses. Systematic Biology 63: 231–250. *Journal cover image designed by S. Ruane.

Myers, E.A., J.A. Rodriguez-Robles, D.F. DeNardo, R.E. Staub, A. Stropoli*, S. Ruane, & F.T. Burbrink. 2013. Multilocus phylogeographic assessment of the California Mountain Kingsnake (Lampropeltis zonata) suggests alternative patterns of diversification for the California Floristic Province. Molecular Ecology 22: 5418–5429. *High school student.

Myers, E.A., S. Ruane, K. Knight, J.L. Knight, & J.M. Ray. 2013. Distribution Record of Tantilla alticola Boulenger, 1903 (Squamata: Colubridae) in Coclé Province, Republic of Panama. Check List 9: 151–152.

Burbrink, F.T., S. Ruane, & R.A. Pyron. 2012. When are adaptive radiations replicated in areas? Ecological opportunity and unexceptional diversification in West Indian Dipsadine snakes (Colubridae: Alsophiini). Journal of Biogeography 39: 465–475.

Burbrink, F.T., H. Yao*, M. Ingrasci, R. Bryson, T.J. Guiher, & S. Ruane. 2011. Speciation at the Mogollon Rim in the Arizona Mountain Kingsnake (Lampropeltis pyromelana). Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution 60:445–454. *High school student.

Ruane, S., R.A. Pyron, & F.T. Burbrink. 2011. Phylogenetic relationships of the Cretaceous frog Beelzebufo from Madagascar and the placement of fossil constraints based on temporal and phylogenetic evidence. Journal of Evolutionary Biology 24: 274–285.

Ruane, S., S.A. Dinkelacker, & J.B. Iverson. 2008. Demographic and reproductive traits of Blanding's turtles, Emydoidea blandingii, at the Western edge of the species' range. Copeia 4:771–779.