Alex Dornburg

Research Curator, Ichthyology

11 West Jones Street, Raleigh, NC 27601


  • Ph.D. in Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, Yale University, New Haven, 2014
  • M.S. in Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, Yale University, New Haven, 2010
  • B.S. in Zoology, Washington State University, Pullman, 2008


  • Postdoctoral Research Associate, Yale University, New Haven, 2014-2015.

For additional information about ichthyology research at the Museum, check out North Carolina Fishes.

Research Interests

Alex's research takes an integrative approach to explore the factors that underlie the origin and maintenance of biodiversity in ray-finned fishes (Actinopterygii). Actinopterygiians comprise over half of all living vertebrate species and a better understanding of their history will shed light onto some long standing questions in evolutionary biology. Why are some clades more diverse than others? Are there general trends that govern the diversification dynamics of lineages in different communities? To answer these questions, his work crosses traditional boundaries between molecular phylogenetics, morphology, paleontology, and ecology. This integrative approach to research facilitates a broader understanding of not only how ecomorphological diversity has accumulated in ecosystems ranging from coral reefs to the Southern Ocean of Antarctica, but also illuminates the factors that influence patterns of vertebrate diversification.


  • Dornburg, A., Moore, J., Beaulieu, J.M., Eytan, R.E., and T.J. Near. 2015. The impact of shifts in marine biodiversity hotspots on patterns of range evolution: evidence from the Holocentridae (squirrelfishes and soldierfishes). Evolution 69(1), 146-161.
  • Dornburg, A., Friedman, M., and T.J. Near. Phylogenetic analysis of molecular and morphological data highlights uncertainty in the relationships of fossil and living species of Elopomorpha (Actinopterygii: Teleostei). Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution 89: 205-218.
  • T. Near, Dornburg, A., Harrington,R., Oliveira, C., Pietsch,T.W., Thacker, C.E., Satoh, T.P., Katayama, E.,Wainwright, P.C. Eastman,J.T., and J.M. Beaulieu. 2015. Identification of the notothenioid sister lineage illuminates the biogeographic history of an Antarctic adaptive radiation. BMC Evolutionary Biology 15:109.
  • Eytan, R.I., Evans, B. R., Dornburg, A., Lemmon,A.R., Moriarty-Lemmon, E., Wainwright, P.C., and T. J. Near. 2015. Are 100 enough? Inferring acanthomorph teleost phylogeny using anchored hybrid enrichment. In revision. BMC evolutionary biology 15 (1), 113.
  • Iglesias, T. L., Dornburg, A., Brandley, M. C., and D. L. Warren. 2015. Life in the unthinking depths: energetic constraints on encephalization in marine fishes. Accepted. Journal of Evolutionary Biology. DOI: 10.1111/jeb.12631


Fields of Research