Matthew Heinicke

2011 EOL Rubenstein FellowsMatthew Heinicke

Matthew Heinicke with a python (Python natalensis), South Africa.

Gekkotans of the World

Postdoctoral Fellow, Villanova University

2011 EOL Fellow


Matthew Heinicke grew up in St. Paul, Minnesota, and as an undergraduate attended the University of Minnesota. When he was younger, numerous trips to museums, zoos, and libraries, as well as state and national parks, fostered an interest in the natural world that has never abated. At the University of Minnesota, Matthew majored in biology and acquired his first research experience, assisting with studies of parasitoid wasp ecology in an entomology lab and doing directed research on amphibian morphology. After graduation, Matthew entered the biology PhD program at Pennsylvania State University. At Penn State, Matthew was awarded several fellowships including a University Graduate Fellowship and multiple Braddock Fellowships, as well as the Penn State Alumni Association Dissertation Award. Matthew’s graduate research comprised molecular phylogenetic analyses of the species-rich New World direct-developing frogs, using the resulting phylogenies to infer major historical biogeographic and morphological patterns in their evolutionary history, and collaborate on a phylogeny-based systematic revision of the group.


For his postdoctoral work at Villanova University, Matthew is continuing with molecular phylogenetic research but focusing on another megadiverse vertebrate group, Gekkota. Currently active areas of inquiry involve using phylogenetic analyses to infer times of divergence, biogeographic patterns, and patterns of morphological change in several species-rich African, Asian, and Australian gecko groups


As an EOL fellow, Matthew will summarize taxonomic, geographic, and morphological information for families, genera, and species of Gekkota. Gekkota is among the largest terrestrial vertebrate groups, with over 1300 species on six continents. The EOL project will allow for scattered and sometimes obscure information to be made available for this group in an accessible way. Broad availability of this information on the EOL website will facilitate research on gekkotans by comparative biologists, geneticists, physiologists, and other biologists who may not otherwise be exposed to the potential of geckos as research subjects, in addition to systematists.

Adult Chondrodactylus turneri, Limpopo Province, South Africa. Photo credit: Matthew P. Heinicke