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Susette Castañeda Rico

Postdoctoral Research Fellow
B.S., M.S. and Ph.D., Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México

Susette Castañeda is a postdoctoral research fellow at the Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute´s Center for Conservation Genomics (CCG). Castañeda is an evolutionary biologist, primarily focused on understanding many aspects of the evolutionary history and systematics of mammals, including population genetics, phylogeography, biogeography and phylogenomics, as well as methodology for sequencing DNA from ancient and non-invasive samples. Her research at CCG is focused on the evolutionary history of the gray fox (Urocyon cinereoargenteus), the only extant non-domestic canid with a widespread natural range that spans from the southern edge of central and eastern Canada to the northern part of Venezuela and Colombia, using museum specimens and genomics.

Castañeda's projects include:

  • Evolutionary history of gray foxes (Urocyon cinereoargenteus)
  • Phylogenomics of the Peromyscus melanophys group
  • Using museum specimens to understand the evolutionary history of mammals
Castañeda received her bachelor's in biology, master's in environmental biology and Ph.D. in evolution from the Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México (UNAM), Mexico City. Her dissertations focused on the population genetics of an arboreal rodent (Habromys simulatus) and the phylogeny and diversification of an endemic group of Mexican rodents (Genus Peromyscus). Prior to her position at the Smithsonian, she was an academic technician at UNAM. She has taken workshops and internships in the U.S., Spain, Venezuela and Germany. Castañeda combines field studies, laboratory work and investigations in natural history collections to answer questions about evolution in mammals, and she also hopes that this information helps to set up conservation strategies for the species and their habitat.
Recent Papers: 

Castañeda-Rico, S., León-Paniagua, L., Vázquez-Domínguez, E., Navarro-Sigüenza, A. 2014. Evolutionary diversification and speciation in rodents of the Mexican lowlands: the Peromyscus melanophrys species group. Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution. 70:454-463.

Castañeda-Rico, S., León-Paniagua, L., Ruedas, L.A., Vázquez-Domínguez, E. 2011. High genetic diversity and extreme differentiation in the two remaining populations of Habromys simulatus. Journal of Mammalogy. 92(5): 963-973.