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Dr. Colleen Farmer

Dr. Colleen Farmer

Address Department of Zoology,
School of Natural Sciences,
Trinity College, Dublin 2


Tel +353 1 896 1036

Research gate profile


Research interests


I study multiple facets of vertebrate evolution, with an emphasis on studies relating to metabolism. My research focus is at the interface between biology, physics, engineering, and paleontology. My team uses cutting edge medical technologies and a wide range of laboratory and computational methodologies to address questions of major vertebrate transitions. Our recent studies have aimed to understand structure-function relationships in the lungs of a range of tetrapods. Lungs are among the most diverse organs of vertebrates, but the selective factors and functional underpinnings of this diversity are poorly understood. As the organs responsible for the first step of the oxygen cascade, they play a crucial role in setting rates of oxygen uptake and levels of aerobic stamina. Aerobic stamina, in turn, intertwines with numerous ecologically important life-history traits, such as the ability of an animal to migrate long distances, the outcome of intraspecific competition and predator-prey interactions, the size of foraging ranges, daily energy expenditures, etc. Thus, understanding the evolution of metabolism is important in understanding the radiation of lineages into their eco-morphological niches.


Selected/Recent Publications


Huttenlocker, A* and C.G. Farmer. 2017. Bone microvasculature tracks red blood cell size diminution in Triassic mammal and dinosaur forerunners. Current Biology 27(1):48-54.

Farmer, C.G. Pulmonary Transformations of Vertebrates. In, The Biology of the Avian Respiratory System: Evolution, Development, Structure and Function. J. Maina, editor. Springer. In press.

Cieri*, R., C.G. Farmer. 2016. Unidirectional pulmonary airflow in vertebrates: Structure, function, evolution. Comparative Biochemistry and Physiology B:1-12 doi:10.1007/s00360-016-0983-3

Farmer, C.G. 2016. A lizard that generates heat. Nature 529(7587):470-472.

Farmer, C.G. 2016. Hot-blooded lizard illuminates endothermy origins. Journal of Experimental Biology 219:908-911.

Farmer, C.G. 2015. Unidirectional flow in lizard lungs: a paradigm shift in our understanding of lung evolution in Diapsida. Zoology 118(5):299-301 doi:10.1016/j.zool.2015.06.001.

Farmer, C.G. 2015. Similarity of crocodilian and avian lungs indicates unidirectional flow is ancestral for archosaurs. Integrative and Comparative Biology 55(6):962-971 (cover) doi:10.1093/icb/icv078.

Famer, C.G. 2015. The evolution of unidirectional pulmonary airflow. Physiology 30(4):260-272. doi: 10.1152

Riede, T., L. Zhiheng, I.T. Tokuda, C.G. Farmer. 2015. Functional morphology of the Alligator mississippiensis larynx with implications for vocal production. Journal of Experimental Biology 218:991-998.

Cieri, R., Craven, B., Schachner, E., Farmer, C.G. 2014. New insight into the evolution of the vertebrate respiratory system and the discovery of unidirectional airflow in iguana lungs. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 111(48): 17218-17223.

Schachner, E.R., Cieri, R. Butler, J., Farmer, C.G. 2014. Unidirectional pulmonary airflow patterns in the savannah monitor lizard. Nature 506(7488): 367-370.

Farmer, C.G. 2011. On the Evolution of Vascular Patterns of Tetrapods. Journal of Morphology 272(11):1325-1341.

Farmer, CG and K Sanders. 2010. Unidirectional airflow in the lungs of alligators. Science 327B(5963): 338-340.

Farmer, CG. 2010. The provenance of the alveolar and parabronchial lungs: Insights from paleoecology and the discovery of cardiogenic, unidirectional airflow in the American alligator (Alligator mississippiensis). Physiological and Biochemical Zoology 83(4): 561-575 (cover).


Last updated 26 May 2017 by