Skip to main content.

Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History
Website Search Box

Department of Vertebrate Zoology

Division of Amphibians & Reptiles

Phyllomedusa vaillantii
Phyllomedusa vaillantii Ecuador, Pastaza Province. Photographed by William W. Lamar
bar Daniel G. Mulcahy
    Daniel G. Mulcahy
    GGI Molecular Laboratory Technician

  • Phone: (202) 633-9083
  • Fax: (202) 633-0182
  • E-mail:

  • Mailing Address:
    Smithsonian Institution
    PO Box 37012, MRC 162
    Washington, DC 20013-7012

  • Shipping Address:
    Smithsonian Institution
    National Museum of Natural History
    10th & Constitution Ave NW
    Washington, DC 20560-0162


Related Links

Previous postdoctoral position at BYU


B.A., University of California, Berkeley, 1998.
Ph.D., Utah State University, 2006.

Research Interests

I study biogeography, systematics, and conservation biology of amphibians and reptiles.  My primary interests are in the processes involved with speciation, including vicariance, dispersal, and local adaptation to environmental regimes.  I use mitochondrial and nuclear sequence data to track the evolutionary histories within species complexes in association with geography and to test phylogenetic hypotheses of more distantly related taxa at the specific, generic, and family levels.  I also use morphological data from museum specimens to address systematics and taxonomy, and physical trends with environmental conditions.  My dissertation research was focused on co-distributed taxa in the deserts of western North America, including those affected by plate-tectonic activities associated with the formation of the Baja California Peninsula.  My postdoctoral position at the Smithsonian Institution involved a morphological revision of Nightsnakes of the genus Hypsiglena. Recently, I have been conducting inventory surveys for herpetofauna of Myanmar, in the Tanintharyi Region for conservation purposes.

Selected Publications

Connette, GM, P Oswald, MK Thura, KJ LaJeunesse Connette, M Songer, G Zug, and DG Mulcahy. Rapid forest clearing in a Myanmar proposed national park threatens two newly discovered species of geckos (Gekkonidae: Cyrtodactylus). PLOS ONE 12(4): e0174432.

Zug, R, DG Mulcahy, JV Vindum. 2017. Resurrection of Bronchocela burmana Blanford, 1878 for the Green Crested Lizard (Squamata, Agamidae) of southern Myanmar. Zookeys 657: 141–156.

Mulcahy, DG, KS Macdonald III, SG Brady, C Meyer, K Barker, and J Coddington. 2016. Greater than X kb: A quantitative assessment of preservation conditions on genomic DNA quality, and a proposed standard for genome-quality DNA. PeerJ 4: e2528. DOI 10.7717/peerj.2528

Lee, JL, A Thompson, and DG Mulcahy. 2016. Relationships between Numbers of Vertebrae, Scale Counts, and Body Size, with Implications for Taxonomy in Nightsnakes (Genus: Hypsiglena). Journal of Herpetology 50(4):616–620. doi:10.1670/15-066

Reeder, TW, TM Townsend, DG Mulcahy, BP Noonan, PL Wood, Jr., JW Sites, Jr., and JJ Wiens. 2015.  Integrated Analyses Resolve Conflicts over Squamate Reptile Phylogeny and Reveal Unexpected Placements for Fossil Taxa. PLOS ONE 10(3): e0118199. 

Mulcahy, DG, JE Martínez-Gómez, G Aguirre-León, JA Cervantes-Pasqualli, and GR Zug. 2014.  Rediscovery of an endemic vertebrate from the remote Islas Revillagigedo in the eastern Pacific Ocean: The Clarión Nightsnake, with conservation and systematic implications. PLOS ONE 9(5):e97682 Media: BBC, NPR, Why Evolution is True, Scientific American, Notable Smithsonian Publications 2014, Altmetric.

Weisrock, DW, JR Macey, M Matsui, DG Mulcahy, and TJ Papenfuss.  2013.  Molecular phylogenetic reconstruction of the endemic Asian salamander family Hynobiidae (Amphibia, Caudata).  Zootaxa 3626(1): 077–093.


Wiens, J. J., C. Hutter, D. G. Mulcahy, B. P. Noonan, T. M. Townsend, J. W. Sites, Jr., and T. W. Reeder.  2012. Resolving the phylogeny of lizards and snakes (Squamata) with extensive sampling of genes and species.  Biology Letters 8: 1043–1046.

Mulcahy, D. G., B. P. Noonan, T. Moss, T. M. Townsend, T. W. Reeder, J. W. Sites, Jr., and J. J. Wiens  2012.  Estimating Divergence Dates and Evaluating Dating Methods using Phylogenomic and Mitochondrial Data in Squamate Reptiles.  Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution 65(3): 974–991.

Mendelson, J. R. III, D. G. Mulcahy, S. Snell, M. E. Acevedo, and J. C. Campbell.  2012.  A New Golden Toad (Bufonidae: Incilius) from Northwestern Guatemala and Chiapas, Mexico.  Journal of Herpetology 46: 473–479.

Avila-Pires, T. C. S., D. G. Mulcahy, F. P. Werneck, and J. W. Sites, Jr.  2012.  Phylogeography of the teiid lizard Kentropics calcarata and the sphaerodactylid Gonatodes humeralis (Reptilia: Squamata): Testing a geological scenario for the Lower Amazon-Tocantins basins, Amazonia, Brazil.  Herpetologica 68(2): 272–287.

Swei, A., et al. 2011 [33 co-authors]. Is chytridiomycosis an emerging amphibian disease in Asia?  PLoS One 6(8): e23179.

Mulcahy, D. G., T. H. Beckstead, and J. W. Sites, Jr.  2011. Molecular Systematics of the Leptodeirini (Colubroidea, Dipsadidae) Revisited: Species-tree analyses and multi-locus data.  Copeia 2011(3): 407–417.

Mendelson, J. R. III, D. G. Mulcahy, S. T. Williams, and J. W. Sites, Jr.  2011.  A Phylogeny and Evolutionary Natural History of Mesoamerican Toads (Anura: Bufonidae).  Zootaxa 3138: 1–34.

Heideman, N., D. G. Mulcahy, J. W. Sites, Jr., M. G. J. Hendricks, and S. R. Daniels.  2011.  Cryptic diversity and morphological convergence in threatened species of fossorial skinks in the genus Scelotes (Squamata: Scincidae) from the Western Cape Coast of South Africa: Implications for species boundaries, digit reduction and conservation. Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution 61(3): 823–833.

Townsend, T. M., D. G. Mulcahy, B. P. Noonan, J. W. Sites, Jr., C. A. Kuczynski, J. J. Wiens, and T. W. Reeder.  2011. Phylogeny of iguanian lizards inferred from 29 nuclear loci, and a comparison of concatenated and species-tree approaches for an ancient, rapid radiation.  Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution. 61(2): 363–380.

Wiens, J. J., C. A. Kuczynski, T. M. Townsend, T. W. Reeder, D. G. Mulcahy, and J. W. Sites, Jr.  2010.  Combining phylogenomics and fossils in higher-level squamate phylogeny: molecular data change the placement of fossil taxa.  Systematic Biology 59(6): 674–688.

Mendelson, J.R. III and D. G. Mulcahy.  2010.  A New Species of Toad (Bufonidae: Incilius) from Central Panama.  Zootaxa 2396: 61–68.

Reyes-Velasco, J. and D. G. Mulcahy.  2010.  Additional taxonomic remarks on the genus Pseudoleptodeira (Serpentes: Colubridae) and the phylogenetic placement of “P. uribei.”  Herpetologica 66(1): 99–110.


Mulcahy, DG and JR Macey. 2009. Vicariance and dispersal form a ring distribution in nightsnakes around the Gulf of California.  Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution 53(2): 537–546.

Wiens, JJ, CA Kuczynski, SA Smith, DG Mulcahy, JW Sites Jr., TM Townsend, and TW Reeder.  2008. Branch lengths, support, and congruence: Testing the phylogenomic approach with 20 nuclear loci in snakes.  Systematic Biology 57(3): 420–431.

Mulcahy, DG.  2008.  Phylogeography and species boundaries of the western North American nightsnake (Hypsiglena torquata): Revisiting the subspecies concept.  Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution 46(3): 1095–1115.

Leaché, AD and DG Mulcahy.  2007.  Phylogeny, divergence times and species limits of spiny lizards (Sceloporus magister species group) in western North American deserts and Baja California.  Molecular Ecology 16(24): 5216–5233.

Mulcahy, DG  2007.  Molecular systematics of neotropical cat-eyed snakes: a test of the monophyly of Leptodeirini (Colubridae: Dipsadinae) with implications for character evolution and biogeography.  Biological Journal of the Linnean Society 92(3): 483–500.

Mulcahy, DG, A Spaulding, JR Mendelson, and ED Brodie, Jr.  2006a. Phylogeography of the Flat-tailed Horned lizard (Phrynosoma mcallii) and systematics of the P. mcallii–platyrhinos mtDNA complex.  Molecular Ecology 15(7): 1807–1826.

Mulcahy, DG, Morrill*, BH, and JR Mendelson, III.  2006b.  Historical biogeography of lowland species of toads (Bufo) across the Trans-Mexican Neovolcanic Belt and the Isthmus of Tehuantepec.  Journal of Biogeography 33(11): 1889–1904.

Mendelson, JR III, B Williams, CA Sheil, and DG Mulcahy.  2005.  Systematics of the Bufo coccifer Complex (Anura: Bufonidae) of Mesoamerica.  Scientific Papers, University of Kansas Natural History Museum 38: 1–27.

Brodie III, ED, CR Feldman, CT Hanifin, JE Motychak, DG Mulcahy, B Williams, ED Brodie, Jr.  2005.  Parallel arms races between garter snakes and newts involving Tetrodotoxin as the phenotypic interface of coevolution.  Journal of Chemical Ecology 31(2): 343–356.

Lips, KR, JR Mendelson III, A Muñoz-Alonso, L Canseco-Márquez, and DG    Mulcahy.  2004.  Amphibian population declines in montane southern Mexico:  resurveys of historical localities.  Biological Conservation 119(2004): 555–564.

Mulcahy, DG and MA Archibald.*  2003.  Geographic variation in the Baja California nightsnake (Eridiphas slevini), with comments on taxonomy and diet.  Journal of Herpetology 37(3): 566–571.

[ TOP ]