About me

I study contemporary evolution in wild populations. For example, how do yearly fluctuations in available food affect natural selection on behavior2. Or, when populations evolve in response to seasonality: is it always the same genes?3

I am especially interested in applying the study of evolutionary processes to conservation management and we are genotyping hundreds of Black rhinos to study how natural selection might interact with management actions. I am also sequencing and assembling the African wild dog and red squirrel genomes.

I'm a postdoc in Dmitri Petrov's lab at Stanford University.

I'm also a founder and associate director of the Stanford Program for Conservation Genomics



We have finished 2 wild dog genome assemblies, working on Sam, sister of Natt now.


We now have over 80 samples from wild and captive Sumatran, Malyan, Siberian and Bengal Tigers, still seeking South East China samples...


Wild dog blood samples have arrived after a very long import process... Next step extract DNA!


Along with Painted Dog Conservation, we are starting a project to sequence and assemble the African wild dog genome!

December 22, 2014

The International Rhino Foundation has awarded me, Dmitri and Raoul du Toit a grant to genotype 800 black rhinos! See below for details.

November 25, 2014

My photo of a juvenile red squirrel is on the cover of this month's JEB!

September 05, 2014

Our paper "Selection on female behaviour fluctuates with offspring environment" has been accepted by the Journal of Evolutionary biology! Now published!

September 04, 2014

Our paper "Illumina TruSeq synthetic long-reads empower de novo assembly and resolve complex, highly repetitive transposable elements" is published! PLoS ONE.

January 21, 2014

Our paper using Moleculo Illumina long reads for de novo assembly is on bioRxiv!

Current Projects

Tiger worldwide genetic diversity

In collaboration with Dr. Uma Ramakrishnan we have started a large scale study of captive and wild genetic diversity in Tigers.

Fecal Genotyping

Also with Uma we are developing an easy and cost-effective method of genotyping indivdiuals, non-invasively, from fecal samples. We are using Tiger scat from local zoos to test a highly-multiplexed PCR based approach.

D. melanogaster seasonality

Does seasonal selection on D. melanogaster phenotypes result in repeatable evolution of allele frequencies across space and time?

African wild dog genome assembly

We have generated two de novo genomes using the 10X Genomics Gem Code platform. We are working on a third genome of a sister dog with which we hope to compare and evaluate the SuperNova haplotype assembly.

Black rhino population genomics

In collaboration with Raoul du Toit, Director of the Lowveld Rhino Trust in Zimbabwe, we are using genomic tools to measure the reproductive success of over 800 rhinos in managed herds. Previous attempts with microsatellite loci were inconclusive due to low genetic diversity. We will then assess whether management actions (such as dehorning, or relocation) affect reproductive success.

Using the high-density genotypes we will also characterize genetic diversity, structure, and inbreeding within managed rhino herds. Finally, we will test for evidence of a prehistoric biogeographic barrier separating Kwazulu-Natal origin and Zambezi origin populations.

Red squirrel de novo genome assembly

We are working on a 10X Genomics based reference genome for the North American red squirrel. Andreas Chavez is developing a trascriptome and we are generating a linkage map to improve theassembly.

Red squirrel behavior

I'm still working on questions related to my PhD dissertation!


Taylor, R. W., Humphries, M. M., Boutin, S., Gorrell, J. C., Coltman, D. W., and McAdam, A. G. Selection on female behaviour fluctuates with offspring environment. 2014. Journal of Evolutionary Biology, 27(11), 2308—2321. Source code on GitHub.  PDF
Rajiv C McCoy, Ryan W Taylor, Timothy A Blauwkamp, Joanna L Kelley, Michael Kertesz, Dmitry Pushkarev, Dmitri A Petrov, Anna-Sophie Fiston-Lavier. 2014. Illumina TruSeq synthetic long-reads empower de novo assembly and resolve complex, highly repetitive transposable elements. PLoS ONE 9: e106689. Originally posted on bioRxiv.
Taylor, R. W., Humphries, M. M., Boutin, S., Gorrell, J. C., Coltman, D. W., and McAdam, A. G. Disassortative mate-choice on behavior in red squirrels. In Preparation.
Shonfield, J., Taylor, R. W., Boutin, S., Humphries, M. M., McAdam, A. G. 2012. Territorial defence behaviour in red squirrels is influenced by local density. Behaviour 149: 369—390.  PDF
Taylor, R. W., Boon, A. K., Dantzer, B., Réale, D., Humphries, M. M., Boutin, S., Gorrell, J. C., Coltman, D. W., and McAdam, A. G. 2012. Low heritabilities, but genetic and maternal correlations between red squirrel behaviours. Journal of Evolutionary Biology, 25(4), 614—624.  PDF      Supporting Information
McFarlane, S. E., Lane, J. E., Taylor, R. W., Gorrell, J. C., Coltman, D. W., Humphries, M. M., Boutin, S., et al. (2011). The heritability of multiple male mating in a promiscuous mammal. Biology Letters, 7(3), 368—371.  PDF

Wildlife Photography