Assistant Professor

Contact Information:

Department of Biological Science
National University of Singapore
14 Science Drive 4
Singapore 117543

Lab: Avian Evolution Lab

6516 2853
6779 2486

Lab Information:

Members of the Rheindt Lab have in common a fascination for biodiversity and its underlying evolutionary processes. With the on-going biodiversity crisis on our planet, we are also interested in how knowledge of evolutionary processes can inform conservation.

Most of our research activities focus on the mechanisms that lead to – or sometimes act against – the build-up of biodiversity, such as genetic differentiation and introgression. Birds are our main model organism because their well-known distribution and life-history make them a suitable object for evolutionary studies. Pursuing a research project at my lab usually involves the application of a variety of laboratory approaches and contemporary computational tools, with a more recent focus on phylogenomic methods using Next-Generation sequencing approaches. Fieldwork is often, but not always, an important component of my students’ work.

Some of the projects the Rheindt Lab is involved in include:

(1)Genetic introgression: Genetic introgression is increasingly recognized as a pervasive phenomenon in evolutionary processes such as speciation and in the introduction of novelty into the gene pool. One of our main study foci is to examine the mechanisms of introgression. In particular, we are interested in the spatio-temporal patterns of introgression given different geographic and ecological conditions, and in whether selection or neutral processes are the main driver of introgression. We employ emerging technologies such as Next-Generation Sequencing in our introgression research.

One of the introgression models we have worked with is a clade of Neotropical tyrant-flycatchers (Zimmerius). Using a dataset of thousands of homologous markers from across the genomes of 12 flycatcher individuals, we have looked at signs of genetic introgression in a flycatcher population that is intermediate between two species. In the near future, we will be using similar approaches on a multitude of South-east Asian bird models.

(2)Complex radiations and leapfrog patterns: Advances in sequencing technology have opened up challenging new areas in evolutionary biology. We are about to analyze biogeographic leapfrog patterns and complicated explosive radiations in South-east Asian birds that are recent and therefore challenging to trace with traditional molecular markers. Using sequence data of genomic proportions and emerging analytical techniques, it will be possible to disentangle the evolutionary history of such complex radiations in unprecedented detail and explore the genomic landscape of differentiation and the neutral and selectional factors that may have shaped their diversification process.

(3) Biogeography in Wallacea: The Wallacean Region has had a major influence on our understanding of biogeography. Using his insights on animal distribution – especially birds – Alfred Russel Wallace delimited the area’s biogeographic regions along an improbable dividing line. Even so, the region’s avifauna remains virtually unexplored from a phylogenetic and population genetic perspective. This region has had a tumultuous earth-historic trajectory, involving impressive faunal turnover at localized as well as regional levels. Our aim is to use a thorough geographic sampling regime of birds coupled with modern phylogenomic methodology to illuminate regional biogeographic patterns against an earth-historic and paleo-climatic background of changing island connections. The results of this research will provide a solid foundation for understanding how biogeographic processes shape regional turnover.

Selected publications:


  1. Rheindt FE, Cuervo AM, Brumfield RT. 2012. Rampant polyphyly indicates cryptic diversity in a clade of Neotropical flycatchers (Aves: Tyrannidae). Biological Journal of the Linnean Society, in press.

  2. Rheindt FE. 2012. New avian records from the little-explored Fakfak Mountains and the Onin Peninsula (West Papua). Bulletin Brit. Orn. Cl. 132: 102-115.

  3. Rheindt FE, Eaton JA. 2012. Notes on the life-history and taxonomy of Muscicapa dauurica umbrosa, an overlooked Bornean canopy bird. Forktail – Journal of Asian Ornithology 28: 144-146.

  4. Van Balen B, Eaton JA, Rheindt FE. 2012. Biology, taxonomy and conservation status of the Short-tailed Green Magpie Cissa thalassina from Java. Bird Conservation International, published online early; doi:10.1017/S0959270911000360.


  1. Rheindt FE, Székely T, Edwards SV, Lee PLM, Burke T, Kennerley PR, Bakewell DN, AlRashidi M, Kosztolányi A, Weston MA, Liu W-T, Lei W-P, Shigeta Y, Javed S, Zefania S, Küpper C. 2011. Conflict between genetic and phenotypic differentiation: the evolutionary history of a ‘lost and rediscovered’ shorebird. PLoS ONE 6: e26995.

  2. Rheindt FE, Edwards SV. 2011. Genetic introgression: an integral but neglected component of speciation in birds. Auk 128: 620-632.

  3. Rheindt FE, Eaton JA, Verbelen F. 2011. Vocal trait evolution in a geographic leapfrog pattern: speciation in the Ptilinopus subgularis complex from Wallacea. Wilson Journal of Ornithology 123: 429-440.

  4. Rheindt FE, Verbelen F. 2011. First nest description of the Vinous-breasted Sparrowhawk Accipiter rhodogaster with notes on its vocalizations and taxonomy. Kukila 15: 83-88.

  5. Rheindt FE, Verbelen F. 2011. First record of Blue-and-white Flycatcher Cyanoptila cyanomelana in the Wallacean Region. Kukila 15: 80-82.


  1. Christidis L, Rheindt FE, Boles WE, Norman JA. 2010. Plumage patterns are good indicators of taxonomic diversity, but not of phylogenetic affinities, in Australian grasswrens Amytornis (Aves: Maluridae). Mol. Phylogenet. Evol. 57: 868-877.

  2. Rheindt FE, Verbelen F, Dadang Dwi Putra, Rahman A, Indrawan M. 2010. New biogeographic records in the avifauna of Peleng Island (Sulawesi, Indonesia), with taxonomic notes on some endemic taxa. Bulletin Brit. Orn. Cl. 130: 181-207.

  3. Rheindt FE. 2010. New biogeographic records for the avifauna of Taliabu (Sula Islands, Indonesia), with the preliminary documentation of two previously undiscovered taxa. Bulletin Brit. Orn. Cl. 130: 33-51.

  4. Brickle NW, Eaton JA, Rheindt FE. 2010. A rapid bird survey of the Menyapa mountains, East Kalimantan, Indonesia. Forktail – Journal of Asian Ornithology 26: 31-41.

  5. Rheindt FE, Eaton JA. 2010. Biological species limits in the Banded Pitta Pitta guajana. Forktail – Journal of Asian Ornithology 26: 86-91.

  6. Bezuijen MR, Eaton JA, Gidean, Hutchinson RO, Rheindt FE. 2010. Recent and historical bird records for Kalaw, eastern Myanmar (Burma) between 1895 and 2008. Forktail – Journal of Asian Ornithology 26: 49-74.


  1. Rheindt FE, Christidis L, Norman JA. 2009. Genetic introgression, incomplete lineage sorting and faulty taxonomy create multiple polyphyly in a montane clade of Elaenia flycatchers. Zoologica Scripta 38: 143-153.

  2. Rheindt FE, Christidis L, Cabanne GS, Miyaki C, Norman JA. 2009. The timing of Neotropical speciation dynamics in the late Neogene: a reconstruction of Myiopagis flycatcher diversification using phylogenetic and paleogeographic data. Mol. Phylogenet. Evol. 53: 961–971.

  3. Rheindt FE, Eaton JA. 2009. Species limits in Pteruthius shrike-babblers: a comparison between the Biological and Phylogenetic Species Concept. Zootaxa2301: 29–54.

  4. Eaton JA, Rheindt FE. 2009. Long-billed Plover Charadrius placidus nesting in its Himalayan wintering range: first breeding record for the Indian Subcontinent. Forktail – Journal of Asian Ornithology 25: 153-154.

  5. Rheindt FE. 2009. First nest and egg description of the New Guinea Bronzewing Henicophaps albifrons and its phylogenetic significance. Kukila 14: 59-62.

  6. Hutchinson RO, Rheindt FE. 2009. First nest and egg of the Seram Mountain-Pigeon Gymnophaps stalkeri of Maluku. Kukila 14: 41-43.


  1. Rheindt FE, Christidis L, Norman JA. 2008. Habitat shifts in the evolutionary history of a Neotropical flycatcher lineage from forest and open landscapes. BMC – Evolutionary Biology 8: 193.

  2. Rheindt FE, Norman JA, Christidis L. 2008. DNA evidence shows vocalizations to be a better indicator of taxonomic limits than plumage patterns in Zimmerius tyrant-flycatchers. Mol. Phylogenet. Evol. 48: 150-156.

  3. Rheindt FE, Norman JA, Christidis L. 2008. Phylogenetic relationships of tyrant-flycatchers (Aves; Tyrannidae), with an emphasis on the elaeniine assemblage. Mol. Phylogen. Evol. 46: 88-101.

  4. Rheindt FE, Norman JA, Christidis L. 2008. Genetic differentiation across the Andes in two pan-Neotropical tyrant-flycatcher species. Emu 108: 261-268.

  5. Rheindt FE, Quispe Vela H. 2008. Descripción del nido y de los polluelos del Solitario Orejiblanco Entomodestes leucotis. Cotinga 30: 70-71.

  6. Rheindt FE. 2008. Descripción preliminar del nido de Pachyramphus spodiurus, especie amenazada. Cotinga 29: 162-163.


  1. Norman JA, Rheindt FE, Rowe DL, Christidis L. 2007. Speciation dynamics in the Australo-Papuan Meliphaga honeyeaters. Mol. Phylogen. Evol. 42: 80-91.

  2. Rheindt FE, Hutchinson RO. 2007. A photoshot odyssey through the confused avian taxonomy of Seram and Buru (southern Moluccas). Birding Asia 7: 18-38.

  3. Rheindt FE, Hutchinson RO. 2007. New island records and new elevational records of birds from the Southern Moluccas. Forktail – Journal of Asian Ornithology 23: 158-161.

  4. Hutchinson R, Eaton J, Demeulemeester B, Rheindt FE. 2007. Observations of Flores Scops Owl Otus alfredi on Flores, Indonesia, with a first description of its vocalisations. Forktail – Journal of Asian Ornithology 23: 184-187.


  1. Rheindt FE. 2006. Splits galore: the revolution in Asian leaf warbler systematics. Birding Asia 5: 25-39.


  1. Federle W, Rheindt FE. 2005. Macaranga ant-plants hide food from intruders: correlation of food presentation and presence of wax barriers analysed using phylogenetically independent contrasts. Biol. J. Linn. Soc. 84: 177-193.

  2. Rheindt FE, Strehl C-P, Gadau J. 2005. A genetic component in the determination of worker polymorphism in the Florida harvester ant Pogonomyrmex badius. Insectes Sociaux 52: 163-168.

  3. Rheindt FE, Austin JJ. 2005. Major analytical and conceptual short-comings in a recent taxonomic revision of the Procellariiformes – a reply to Penhallurick and Wink (2004). Emu 105: 181-186.


  1. Rheindt FE, Gadau J, Strehl C-P, Hölldobler B. 2004. Extremely high mating frequency in the Florida harvester ant (Pogonomyrmex badius). Behavioral Ecology and Sociobiology 56: 472-481.

  2. Rheindt FE, Grafe TU, Abouheif E. 2004. Rapidly evolving traits and the comparative method: how important is testing for phylogenetic independence? Evolutionary Ecology Research 6: 377-396.

  3. Rheindt FE. 2004. Notes on the range and ecology of Sichuan Treecreeper Certhia tianquanensis. Forktail – Journal of Asian Ornithology 20: 141-142.

  4. Rheindt FE. 2004. An incident of elevational displacement of birds at Bukit Fraser, Peninsular Malaysia. Forktail – Journal of Asian Ornithology 20: 130-131.

  5. Rheindt FE. 2004. New Species in Cambodia: Rosy Minivet Pericrocotus roseus roseus in Chhep; and Sulphur-breasted Warbler Phylloscopus ricketti at Bokor. Cambodia Bird News 12: 45-46.

  6. Rheindt FE. 2004. Review – Handbook of the Birds of the World, Volume 8, Broadbills to Tapaculos. Australian Field Ornithology 21: 127-130.


  1. Rheindt FE. 2003. The impact of roads on birds: Does song frequency play a role in determining susceptibility to noise pollution? J. Ornith. 144: 295-306.


  1. Rheindt FE, Grafe TU, Linsemair KE. 2001. New bird records for Comoé National Park, Ivory Coast. Malimbus 24: 38-40