The research projects of the Wayne lab cover a wide range of species and utilize a multitude of molecular approaches. From exploring contemporary population dynamics to evolutionary relationships, current projects utilize both traditional and next-generation technologies to address ecological and evolutionary questions at a variety of spatial and temporal scales. Many of the projects explore genomes for signatures of selection (natural or artificial), local adaptation, patterns of partitioning genetic variation across species and populations, or use a metagenomic approach to understand complex biological systems. We also explore the potential of transcriptomics to gather gene expression data from wild populations.


Congratulations to Dr. Rena Schweizer for completing her PhD studies and receiving a NSF Postdoctoral Fellowship with the Cheviron lab in the Division of Biological Sciences at the University of Montana. In Rena’s new position she will be exploring high-altitude adaptation in deer mice and understanding the evolution of metabolic networks.

Rena’s dissertation focused on understanding population differentiation in North American gray wolves and how environmental factors influence local adaptation among their populations..

Since the early 1990’s, the Wayne lab has studied the endangered island foxes, native to the Channel Islands in Southern California. The latest publication on the foxes, Genomic Flatling in the Endangered Island Fox (Robinson et al, 2016) revealed, “its [the island fox] persistence despite extreme lack of genetic variability and increased genetic load, raises questions about the generality of the small population paradigm.” These findings are quite unique and as a result have received media attention from the New York Times and several blogs, like Why is evolution true?". (Photo credit: Chuck Graham).

Koepfli et al discovered the first African canid in over 150 years! A genome-wide study of jackals from Africa and Eurasia revealed African jackals are actually wolves. According to Dr. Klaus- Peter Koepfli, this project was possible because he remembered there were golden jackal samples, from Kenya, in the Wayne lab freezers. This monumental finding received a substantial amount of press coverage from National Geographic to the LA Times (Photo Credit: D. Gordon E. Robertson)

After 4 years of collaborative work, Freeman et al. brings new lights on the dog domestication using genome sequencing. Indeed, in their recent PLoS Genetics paper, the authors suggested that "dog and wolf lineages are reciprocally monophyletic, suggesting that none of the modern wolf populations are related to the wolves that were first domesticated". This work was highligthed in Larson & Bradley's perspective article, published in the same journal issue.

Steven Winter, a National Geographic photographer famous for his photos of big cats taken around the world, has been working for the past year to get photos of mountain lions (e.g. P22) with the Hollywood sign in the background. And after a lot of work, he was successful! This work is presented in the December 2013 issue of National Geographic!
Read more about the mountain lions and P22 on

Fall 2013 was successful for the Wayne Lab, with the publication of two high-ranked papers.

Professor Robert Wayne's NSF-funded project has received high press coverage for the Science paper "Complete Mitochondrial Genomes of Ancient Canids Suggest a European Origin of Domestic Dogs" (Thalmann et al. 2013). We invite you to read also the first major 'transcriptomics' paper of the Wayne Lab, published by Roy et al. in Mammal Genome.