Kirk S. Zigler

Kirk S. Zigler


Ph.D. in Zoology, Duke University, Durham, North Carolina, 2002

B.A. in Biology with Highest Honors, summa cum laude, Kenyon College, Gambier, Ohio, 1996

Professional Appointments

Department of Biology, Sewanee: The University of the South, 2005-present

Friday Harbor Laboratories Postdoctoral Fellow, Friday Harbor, Washington, 2003-2004

Smithsonian Institution Postdoctoral Fellow, Naos Marine Laboratory, Panamá, 2002-2004

National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellow, Duke University, 1996-2002

Peer-reviewed publications (* indicates Sewanee undergraduate coauthor)

Speiser, D.I., M.S. Pankey, A.K. Zaharoff, B.A. Battelle, H.D. Bracken-Grissom, J.W. Breinholt, S.M. Bybee, T.W. Cronin, A. Garm, A.R. Lindgren, N.H. Patel, M.L. Porter, M.E. Protas, A.S. Rivera, J.M. Serb, K.S. Zigler, K.A. Crandall and T.H. Oakley. 2014. Using Phylogenetically-Informed Annotation (PIA) to search for light-interacting genes in transcriptomes of non-model organisms. BMC Bioinformatics 15:350.

Zigler, K.S. and R.A. Raff. 2013. A shift in germ layer allocation is correlated with large egg size and facultative planktotrophy in the echinoid Clypeaster rosaceus. Biological Bulletin 224:192-199.

Coppard, S.E., K.S. Zigler and H.A. Lessios. 2013. Phylogeography of the sand dollar genus Mellita: cryptic speciation along the coasts of the New World. Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution 69:1033-1042.

Niemiller, M.L. and K.S. Zigler. 2013. Patterns of cave biodiversity and endemism in the Appalachians and
Interior Plateau of Tennessee, USA. PLOS One 8:e64177.

Zigler, K.S., M. Byrne, E.C. Raff, H.A. Lessios and R.A. Raff. 2012. Natural hybridization in the sea urchin genus Pseudoboletia between species without apparent barriers to gamete recognition. Evolution 66:1695-1708.

Wakefield, K.R.* and K.S. Zigler. 2012. Obligate subterranean fauna of Carter State Natural Area, Franklin County, Tennessee. Speleobiology Notes 4:24-28.

Lessios, H.A. and K.S. Zigler. 2012. Rates of sea urchin bindin evolution. Pp. 136-143 in ‘Rapidly Evolving Genes and Genetic Systems’ edited by R. Singh, J. Xu and R. Kulathinal. Oxford University Press.

Davis, R.A.* and K.S. Zigler. 2012. Ant (Hymenoptera: Formicidae) communities of the southern Cumberland Plateau. Annals of the Entomological Society of America 105:484-492.

Cowan, W.M.*, C.R. Croom* and K.S. Zigler. 2012. Observations of juvenile Anadara brasiliana (Bivalvia: Arcidae) on Mellita isometra (Echinoidea: Mellitidae) at St. Catherines Island, Georgia, U.S.A. Journal of Molluscan Studies 78:225-226.

Lessios, H.A., S. Lockhart, R. Collin, G. Sotil, P. Sanchez-Jerez, K.S. Zigler, A.F. Perez, M.J. Garrido, L.B. Geyer, G. Bernardi, V.D. Vacquier, R. Haroun and B.D. Kessing. 2012. Phylogeography and bindin evolution in Arbacia, a sea urchin genus with an unusual distribution. Molecular Ecology 21:130–144.

Loria, S.F.*, K.S. Zigler and J.J. Lewis. 2011. Molecular phylogeography of the troglobiotic millipede Tetracion Hoffman, 1956 (Diplopoda: Callipodida: Abacionidae). International Journal of Myriapodology 5:35-48.

Dixon, G.B.*, and K.S. Zigler. 2011. Cave-obligate biodiversity on the campus of Sewanee: The University of the South, Franklin County, Tennessee. Southeastern Naturalist 10:251-266.

Zigler, K.S. and G.M. Cooper*. 2011. Brood size of the stygobiotic asellid isopod Caecidotea bicrenata bicrenata from Franklin County, Tennessee, USA. Speleobiology Notes 3:1-3.

Shear, W.A., I.S. McPerhson, T.H. Jones, S.F. Loria* and K.S. Zigler. 2010. Chemical defense of a troglobiont milliped, Tetracion jonesi Hoffman (Diplopoda: Callipodida: Abacionidae). International Journal of Myriapodology 3:151-158.

Snowman, C.V.*, K.S. Zigler and M. Hedin. 2010. Caves as islands: Mitochondrial phylogeography of the cave-obligate spider species Nesticus barri (Araneae: Nesticidae). Journal of Arachnology 38:49-56.

Harlan, A.J.* and K.S. Zigler. 2009. The phylogenetic position of Eurycea lucifuga, the Cave Salamander, and the evolution of troglobitism and troglophilism within the genus Eurycea. Journal of the Tennessee Academy of Science 84:77-82.

Zigler, K.S., H.A. Lessios, and R.A. Raff. 2008. Egg energetics, fertilization kinetics, and population structure in echinoids with facultatively feeding larvae. Biological Bulletin 215:191-199.

Zigler, K.S. 2008. The evolution of sea urchin sperm bindin. International Journal of Developmental Biology 52:791-796. Smith, M.S., K.S. Zigler, R.A. Raff. 2007. Evolution of non-feeding larvae: Selection vs. loss. Bioessays 29:566-571.

Zigler, K.S., M. A. McCartney, D. R. Levitan and H. A. Lessios. 2005. Sea urchin bindin divergence predicts gamete compatibility. Evolution 59:2399-2404.

Zigler, K.S. and H.A. Lessios. 2004. Speciation on the coasts of the New World: Phylogeography, reproductive isolation, and the evolution of bindin in the sea urchin genus Lytechinus. Evolution 58:1225-1241.

Zigler, K.S. and H.A. Lessios. 2003a. Evolution of bindin in the pantropical sea urchin Tripneustes: Comparisons to bindin of other genera. Molecular Biology and Evolution 20:220-231.

Zigler, K.S. and H.A. Lessios. 2003b. 250 million years of bindin evolution. Biological Bulletin 205:8-15.

Zigler, K.S., E.C. Raff, E. Popodi, R.A. Raff and H.A. Lessios. 2003. Adaptive evolution of bindin in the genus Heliocidaris is correlated with the shift to direct development. Evolution 57:2293-2302.

Other publications (for a general audience)

Zigler, K.S., M.L. Niemiller and D.B. Fenolio. 2014. Cave Biodiversity of the Southern Cumberland Plateau. National Speleological Society Convention Guidebook pp. 159-163.

Niemiller, M.L., K.S. Zigler and D.B. Fenolio. 2013. “Cave Life of TAG: A Guide to Commonly Encountered Species in Tennessee, Alabama and Georgia.” Published by the Biology Section of the National Speleological Society. 45 pp. ISBN:978-0-9893899-1-4.

Niemiller, M.L., D.B. Fenolio and K.S. Zigler. 2012. The Obligate Cave Fauna of Georgia. Georgia Speleological Society Bulletin 2012:6-12.

Research Grants

Distribution and conservation of cave biodiversity in the Valley and Ridge, co-PI, 2014-2015
Cave Conservancy Foundation ($25,000)

Conservation assessments of cave beetles and cave crayfish, co-PI, 2014-2015
Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency ($10,900)

Classification and georeferencing of karst resources in the Appalachian LCC, co-PI, 2013-2015
Appalachian Landscape Conservation Cooperative ($111,000)

Conservation status of cave beetles of the Cumberland Plateau, PI, 2013-2014
Shearwater Foundation ($9000)

Conservation status of cavefishes and other cave-obligate species in Tennessee, co-PI, 2012-2013
Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency ($14,000)

Faculty Development Grants, 2007-2014, Sewanee: The University of the South ($31,000 total)

Center for Teaching Awards, 2005-2010, Sewanee: The University of the South ($5,000 total)

National Science Foundation International Research Fellowship Program, 2002-2004 ($31,400)

Sigma Xi Grant in Aid of Research, 2001 ($1000)

Duke University Dissertation Improvement Grant, 2000 ($7000)

Duke University Graduate Award for International Research, 2000 ($2000)

Smithsonian Marine Station at Fort Pierce Research Award, 2000 ($2450)

Fellowships and Honors

James D. Kennedy III Fellowship, 2008-2011, Sewanee: The University of the South ($15,000)

Friday Harbor Laboratories Postdoctoral Fellowship, 2003-2005 ($70,000)

Smithsonian Institution Postdoctoral Fellowship, 2002-2004 ($36,000)

Smithsonian Institution Predoctoral Fellowship, 1998-2001 ($2700)

National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowship, 1996-2001

Kenyon College Honor Scholarship, 1992-1996

National Merit Scholarship, 1992-1996

Inducted into Sigma Xi, 1996

Inducted into Phi Beta Kappa, 1995

Teaching and Mentoring


Field Investigations in Biology (BIO 130), Entomology (BIO 200), Invertebrate Zoology (BIO 202), Biodiversity: Pattern and Process (BIO 211), Evolutionary Biology (BIO 213), Cave Biology (BIO 260), Developmental Biology (BIO 333), Readings in Island Ecology (ENST 140, as one of four faculty) and Island Ecology (ENST 240, as one of four faculty)


Advisor for 40 Independent Study projects, 2006-present

Advisor for nine summer research projects, 2006-present

Advisor for ten honors theses, 2009-present

Faculty advisor of an average of 21 students per semester, 2006-present

First Year Advisor, 2005, 2006, 2008, 2010, 2012, 2014

GreenHouse Advisor, 2007-2011, 2013-present



Chair, Department of Biology, 2014-present

Co-Director, Island Ecology Program, 2011-present

Member, Undergraduate Research Advisory Committee, 2012-2014

Member, Domain Stewardship Committee, 2011-present

Coordinator, Seabold Merit Scholarship, 2010-present

Coordinator, National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowship applications, 2005-present

Member, Pre-Medical Advisory Committee, 2005-2011

Member, University Lectures Committee, 2006-2011, Chair 2009-2011

Member, Consortium for Faculty Diversity Committee, 2005-2009

President, Phi Beta Kappa, Beta Chapter of Tennessee, 2009-2010

Associated Colleges of the South Environmental Fellow, 2007-2008


Invited speaker at Wayne State University (2012), Middle Tennessee State University (2013), University of North Georgia (2015)

Invited consultant to Tennessee State Wildlife Action Plan update, organized by Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency, 2013

Invited consultant to re-visioning of the Cave and Karst Program for the Tennessee Chapter of The Nature Conservancy, 2013

Proposal review for the National Science Foundation, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, and the National Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada

Manuscript review for BMC Evolutionary Biology, The Biological Bulletin, Evolution, Evolution and Development, Molecular Ecology, Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution, Journal of Molecular Evolution, Zoologica Scripta, Journal of the Tennessee Academy of Science, Journal of Arachnology, Speleobiology Notes and Marine Biotechnology

Chapter review for ‘Evolution: Making Sense of Life’ by Zimmer and Emlen, 2011

National Science Foundation, Panelist, 2011, 2012


Volunteer member of Sewanee Emergency Medical Service (Tennessee Department of Health EMT-IV #33666), with additional training as a Wilderness EMT, 2007-2012