Burton Lim

Burton Lim

Burton Lim

Assistant Curator of Mammalogy

Area: Natural History, Biodiversity

Interests: Bats, Biodiversity, Biogeography, Community Ecology, Evolution, Mammalogy

Exhibitions & Galleries: Bat Cave, LIfe in Crisis: Schad Gallery of Biodiversity

Phone: 416.586.5771


B.Sc., Zoology, University of Toronto, 1980-1984
M.Sc., Biology, York University, 1994-1996
Ph.D., Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, University of Toronto, 1999-2007
Certificate in Global Journalism, Munk School of Global Affairs, U of T, 2012-2013

Burton Lim is Assistant Curator of Mammalogy in the Department of Natural History at the ROM.

Born, raised and educated in Toronto, Burton has been employed at the ROM since completing his undergraduate degree and pursuing graduate studies. He has travelled to 22 countries (and counting) conducting fieldwork on mammals. His research interests focus on the evolution and biodiversity of mammals with a specialization on tropical bats.

His dissertation examined the molecular phylogenetics of New World sheath-tailed bats (Family Emballonuridae), their origin, divergence times, biogeography in Central and South America, and the evolution of morphological and behavioural characters. Burton continues this integrative approach on other groups of mammals.

He uses information gathered from faunal surveys in the Guiana Shield (primarily Guyana and Suriname) to investigate species diversity and relative abundance of small mammals (bats, rats, and opossums). The establishment of baseline data on distribution and community ecology enables the monitoring of changes in the environment to assess aspects of conservation and sustainable development.  Since 2011, Burton has been collaborating with Operation Wallacea on monitoring biodiversity at Iwokrama Forest and Surama Village in central Guyana, including bats, to track changes in the ecosystem.

Dr. Lim is also participating in the International Barcode of Life (iBOL) project to create a genetic reference system for species identification and discovery of mammals.  And he couldn’t pass up the once-in-a-life-time chance to skin a blue whale, the largest animal to ever live on earth, when 1 of 9 that had accidentally died during a year of exceptional ice formation in the Gulf of St. Lawrence washed ashore beside the boardwalk of Trout River on the west coast of Newfoundland.

Other Links

And More

Publications since 2016

Engstrom, M., B. Lim, J. Miller, O. Haddrath, D. Ireland, and G. De Iuliis. 2017. Out of the Depths: The Blue Whale Story. Royal Ontario Museum.

Lim, B.K. 2017. Review of genetic diversification of bats in the Caribbean and biogeographic relationships to Neotropical species based on DNA barcodes. Genome, 60: 65–73.

Lok, L., T.A. Paton, Z.Wang, G. Kaur, S. Walker, R.K.C. Yuen, W.W.L. Sung, J.Whitney, J.A. Buchanan, B. Trost, N. Singh, B. Apresto, N. Chen, M. Coole, T.J. Dawson, K. Ho, Z. Hu, S. Pullenayegum, K. Samler, A. Shipstone, F. Tsoi, T. Wang, S.L. Pereira, P. Rostami, C.A. Ryan, A.H.Y. Tong, K. Ng, Y. Sundaravadanam, J.T. Simpson, B.K. Lim, M.D. Engstrom, C.J. Dutton, K.C.R. Kerr, M. Franke, W. Rapley, R.F. Wintle, S.W. Scherer. 2017. De novo genome and transcriptome assembly of the Canadian Beaver (Castor canadensis). Genes, Genomes, Genetics 7: 755-773.

Moretto, L., B.K. Lim, R. Cadenillas, and J.N. Martinez. 2017. Analysis of bat humeri from Late Pleistocene Talara Tar Seeps of northwestern Peru, with paleoenvironmental implications. Journal of Vertebrate Paleontology, 36: DOI: 10.1080/02724634.2017.1250097.

Ceríaco L.M., E.E. Gutiérrez, A. Dubois, et al. 2016. Photography-based taxonomy is inadequate, unnecessary, and potentially harmful for biological sciences. Zootaxa, 4196 (3): 435–445.

Gu, S.H., S. Arai, H.T. Yu, B.K. Lim, H.J. Kang, and R. Yanagihara. 2016. Genetic variants of Cao Bang hantavirus in the Chinese mole shrew (Anourosorex squamipes) and Taiwanese mole shrew (Anourosorex yamashinai).  Infection, Genetics and Evolution, 40: 113–118.

Lim, B.K. 2016. Review of mammalogical research in the Guianas of northern South America. Integrative Zoology, 11: 151–161.

Lim, B.K., and L.M. Arcila Hernandez. 2016. DNA barcoding of Jamaican bats: implications to Neotropical biodiversity. Mitochondrial DNA, 27: 3013–3019.

Lim, B.K., C. Osborne, and A. Ignace. 2016. Small mammals of the South Rupununi region, Guyana. Pp. 103-118, in Biodiversity assessment survey of the South Rupununi savannah, Guyana. BAT Survey Report No. 1. WWF-Guianas, Guyana Office, Georgetown, Guyana.

Lim, B.K., and V. Pacheco. 2016. Small non-volant mammals. Pp. 84-93, in Core standardized methods for rapid biological field assessment. (Larsen, T.H., ed.). Conservation International, Arlington, VA.

Lim, B.K. 2016. Basking in the Caribbean: Why the Caribbean is a tropical paradise for bats but not so much for other mammals. Magazine of the Royal Ontario Museum, 49(2): 29-30.




Recent Publications

Year Publication
2016 Livia Loureiro and Burton Lim. "Bat Study in the Cayman Islands." Flicker Bulletin, 26, June-July, 5-7. (PDF)
2016 Deirdre Leowinata and Vincent Luk. "Return to Sri Lanka." ROM Magazine, 48, 3, 20-23. (PDF)
2015 Burton Lim. "Review of Bats of Trinidad and Tobago: a field guide and natural history, by G.A. Gomes and F.A. Reid." Acta Chiropterologica, 17, 199. (PDF)
2014 Burton Lim. "Biodiversity bonanza: Guyana's Rupununi." Caribbean Beat, 127, 3, 68-69. biodiversity bonanza
2013 Burton Lim. "Establishing baseline data on bats for REDD+ verification." Biodiversity Science, 10 baseline data on bats

Research Projects

Less than 10% of the planet’s estimated 100 million species have been identified and described.

In May 2014, a small ROM team travelled to Newfoundland to salvage a Blue Whale that had washed ashore.


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