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Brian Sullivan

Brian Sullivan

Professor, Mathematics and Natural Sciences, New College of Interdisciplinary Arts and Sciences

brian.sullivan@asu.edu

602-543-6022

Mathematics and Natural Sciences
Arizona State University
PO Box 37100
Phoenix, AZ 85069

Titles

  • Senior Sustainability Scholar, Julie Ann Wrigley Global Institute of Sustainability
  • Professor, Mathematics and Natural Sciences, New College of Interdisciplinary Arts and Sciences
  • Affiliated Faculty, Center for Biodiversity Outcomes, Julie Ann Wrigley Global Institute of Sustainability

Biography

Sullivan has spent 40 years investigating the behavior, ecology and evolution of amphibians and reptiles of the Sonoran Desert. He is arguably the best-known herpetologist in the Southwest with active research projects designed to increase our understanding the distribution and abundance of amphibians and reptiles in landscapes ranging from urban parks and preserves to absolutely pristine desert areas. As a natural historian, Sullivan has been gathering data in Arizona since 1970, recorded in highly detailed daily field notes, a practice he learned from his first mentor, one of the most famous naturalists of the western US, R. C. Stebbins at Cal. Sullivan’s field notes, with entries from the late 1960s through today, comprises thousands of pages of detailed information on various species, photographs of habitat, combined with information gleaned from dozens of his former undergraduate and graduate students, and current and past colleagues. Over the past five years, as a result of the massive data set accumulated over the previous four decades, Sullivan’s collaborators have provided the opportunity to formulate dozens of contributions that allow us to understand the evolutionary relationships among treefrogs, various toads, whiptailed lizards, and even the venomous Gila monster. Sullivan has been called upon to summarize the influence of cattle grazing on plant and animal communities of Arizona, and characterize how human mediated change has allowed some herps to increase in abundance while other close relatives have declined. When the solar industry proposed to simply move federally protected desert tortoises from harm’s way in southern California, it was Sullivan’s original research, and recent review that was cited as the reason the practice was re-evaluated, why the project was halted before the unfortunate tortoises would have been moved to unfamiliar territories only to quite literally “die of thirst.” He has been called upon to advise urban planners as the structure of future Phoenix area parks and preserves—to suggest how designs might better encompass all the habitats required to conserve the greatest diversity and abundance of herp species in the coming years. It is by these contributions that Sullivan’s work as a natural historian with special interest in reptiles and amphibians has brought much needed attention to these little known organisms, and with continued effort, will lead to their conservation.

Education

  • PhD, Arizona State University, 1983
  • BA, University of California-Berkeley, 1979

Expertise

External Links

Journal Articles

In Press

Walker, J. W., J. E. Cordes, G. J. Manning and B. K. Sullivan. Aspidoscelis tigris septentrionalis (Burger, 1950), Plateau Tiger Whiptail, in the western United States: Individial, ontogenetic, and geographic variation in color pattern. Herpetological Conservation and Biology

2015

Ackley, J. W., M. J. Angilletta Jr., D. DeNardo, B. K. Sullivan and J. Wu. 2015. Urban heat island mitigation strategies and lizard thermal ecology: Landscaping can quadruple potential activity time in an arid city. Urban Ecosystems DOI: 10.1007/s11252-015-0460-x. (link )

Ackley, J. W., J. Wu, M. Angilletta, S. W. Myint and B. K. Sullivan. 2015. Rich lizards: How affluence and land cover influence the diversity and abundance of desert reptiles persisting in an urban landscape. Biological Conservation 182:87-92. DOI: 10.1016/j.biocon.2014.11.009. (link )

Goldberg, S. R., C. R. Bursey, K. O. Sullivan, R. W. Bowker and B. K. Sullivan. 2015. Old World nematodes in the ocellated skink, Chalcides ocellatus (Squamata: Scincidae) now established in Mesa, Maricopa County, Arizona, U.S.A. Comparative Physiology 82(2):304-305. DOI: 10.1654/4768.1. (link )

Sullivan, B. K., J. Wooten, T. D. Schwaner, K. O. Sullivan and M. Takahashi. 2015. Thirty years of hybridization between toads along the Agua Fria River in Arizona: I. Evidence from morphology and mtDNA. Journal of Herpetology 49(1):150-156. DOI: 10.1670/14-011. (link )

2014

Sullivan, B. K., R. Averill-Murray, K. O. Sullivan, J. R. Sullivan, E. A. Sullivan and J. D. Riedle. 2014. Winter activity of Sonoran desert tortoise (Gopherus morafkai) in central Arizona. Chelonian Conservation and Biology 13(1):114-119. DOI: 10.2744/CCB-1056.1. (link )

Sullivan, B. K., M. R. Douglas, J. M. Walker, J. E. Cordes, M. A. Davis, W. J. Anthonysamy, K. O. Sullivan and M. E. Douglas. 2014. Conservation and management of polytypic species: The little striped whiptail complex (Aspidoscelis inornata) as a case study. Copeia 2014(3):519-529. DOI: 10.1643/CG-13-140. (link )

Sullivan, B. K., E. M. Nowak and M. A. Kwiatkowski. 2014. Problems with mitigation translocation of herpetofauna. Conservation Biology 29(1):12-18. DOI: 10.1111/cobi.12336. (link )

Sullivan, B. K., K. O. Sullivan, D. Vardukyan and T. Suminski. 2014. Persistence of horned lizards (Phrynosoma spp.) in urban preserves of central Arizona. Urban Ecosystems 17(3):707-717. DOI: 10.1007/s11252-014-0353-4. (link )

Sullivan, B. K., D. Vardukyan and K. O. Sullivan. 2014. Historic and current composition of lizard communities in urban preserves of central Arizona, USA. Urban Naturalist 2014(2):1-18. (link )

Walker, J. W. and B. K. Sullivan. 2014. Ontogeny of color pattern in Aspidoscelis tigris punctilinealis (Dickerson), Sonoran tiger whiptail, in central Arizona. Herpetological Review 45(3):398-401.

2013

Loughran, C. L., E. M. Nowak, J. Schofer, K. O. Sullivan and B. K. Sullivan. 2013. Lagopmorphs as prey of western diamond-backed rattlesnakes (Crotalus atrox in Arizona. The Southwestern Naturalist 58(4):502-505. DOI: 10.1894/0038-4909-58.4.502. (link )

Sullivan, B. K., J. M. Walker, H. L. Taylor, J. E. Cordes, M. A. Kwiatkowski, K. O. Sullivan, J. R. Sullivan, M. R. Douglas and M. E. Douglas. 2013. Morphological diagnosability of Aspidoscelis arizonae (Squamata: Teiidae) as an indication of evolutionary divergence in the Aspidoscelis ornata complex. Copeia 2013(3):366-377. (link )

2012

Sullivan, B. K. and K. O. Sullivan. 2012. Common chuckwalla (Sauromalus ater) in an urban preserve: Persistence of a small population and estimation of longevity. Herpetological Conservation and Biology 7(3):437-441. (link )

Walker, J. M., B. K. Sullivan, K. O. Sullivan, M. R. Douglas and M. E. Douglas. 2012. Evolutionary, ecological, and morphological distinctiveness of an endemic Arizona lizard, Pai striped whiptail (Aspidoscelis pai). Herpetological Conservation and Biology 7(3):265-275. (link )

Posters

2015

Ackley, J. W., J. Wu, B. K. Sullivan, M. Angilletta, S. W. Myint and D. DeNardo. 2015. Rich lizards: How affluence and land cover influence the diversity and abundance of desert reptiles persisting in an urban landscape. Poster presented at the Seventeenth Annual CAP LTER All Scientists Meeting and Poster Symposium, 16 January 2015, Skysong, Scottsdale, AZ. (link )

2013

Ackley, J. W., J. Wu, M. Angilletta, D. DeNardo and B. K. Sullivan. 2013. Heat islands, landscaping, and the thermal ecology of urban lizards. Poster presented at the Sustainable Pathways: Learning from the Past and Shaping the Future, 98th Ecological Society of America Annual Meeting, 4-9 August 2013, Minneapolis, Minnesota. (link )

Ackley, J. W., J. Wu, D. DeNardo, M. Angilletta, S. W. Myint and B. K. Sullivan. 2013. Heat islands, backyard landscaping, and the thermal ecology of urban lizards. Poster presented at the 11 January 2013, 15th Annual CAP LTER Poster Symposium and All Scientist Meeting 2013, Skysong, Scottsdale, AZ. (link )