Stephen M. Shuster
Office: Bldg. 21 Room 302
- animal mating systems
- male and female reproductive strategies
- evolution and population structure in
- PhD: Department of Zoology, University of California,
- MS Department of Biology, University of New Mexico, Albuquerque, 1979
- BS Department of Zoology, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, 1976
My fundamental research goals are to understand (1) the
processes by which genetic variation is maintained in natural populations, (2) the
genetic and environmental bases for the expression of sexual phenotype, (3) how
selection can be measured in nature, and (4) how mating systems and alternative
mating strategies evolve.
My research and scholarship efforts at Northern Arizona
University have developed in several major directions, which are extensions of these
Strategies: My primary research involves investigation of expression of
adult phenotype and population sex ratio in marine isopods, Paracerceis sculpta. This project is an extension
of my dissertation research and was continuously supported by NSF for nearly 25
years. The goal of this project is to understand the genetic and environmental
mechanisms that maintain phenotypic variability in natural populations, and
that allow alternative male mating strategies to persist in nature. All of my
publications on P. sculpta (see CV)
are part of this research. In future years, I plan to specifically investigate
variation in the genetic factors that cause sex ratio biases in the natural
population, as well as explore the effects of climate change and predation on
the character of breeding aggregations.
Evolution: Another project involves my continuing collaboration with Michael J. Wade at Indiana
University. We are extending the theoretical principles developed in our book
entitled "Mating Systems and
Strategies" published by Princeton University Press in 2003, to
include both plant and animal mating systems. This book outlines a novel
statistical approach for measuring the intensities of natural and sexual
selection in nature. This approach provides new insights into why sexual
selection is such a powerful evolutionary force, and it provides unique
explanations for observed variation in mating systems and alternative mating
strategies for all sexually reproducing organisms.
I am also involved in community genetics research in collaboration with the
Cottonwood Ecology Group at NAU. As part of this project I am interested in
exploring methods for estimating the intensity and form of genetic interactions
within and among species from individual to ecosystem scales. I am also
interested in exploring statistical approaches for estimating how and to what
degree individuals, species and communities may become genetically and
phenotypically distinct. As part of this research I am a mentor in the NSF IGERT graduate training program:
NAU’s IGERT PhD program seeks to identify key links between genes and the
environment and is designed to train exceptional graduate students in molecular
genetics, environmental sciences, and spatio-temporal modeling.
Recent postdoctoral associates
in my laboratory have investigated (1) the relative influences of social and
sexual selection via indirect genetic effects (IGEs) on the evolution of
cannibalistic behavior and body size, isopod crustaceans, (2) genetic
interactions influencing the expression of parental care in sea spiders,
leeches and syngnathid fish, and (3) estimates of community heritability and
interspecific indirect genetic effects (IIGEs) for arthropod communities
inhabiting cottonwood trees.
Shuster, S. M. 2011. Differences in relative
fitness among alternative mating tactics might be more apparent than real. Journal
of Animal Ecology 80: 905–907.
Krakauer, A. H., M. S. Webster, E. H. DuVal,
A. G. Jones and S. M. Shuster. 2011. The opportunity for sexual selection: Not
mismeasured, just misunderstood. Journal of Evolutionary
Biology 24: 2064–2071.
Shuster, S. M. 2009. Sexual selection and mating
systems. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 106:
Whitham, T. G., S. P. DeFazio, J. A.
Schweitzer, S. M. Shuster, G. J. Allen, J. K. Bailey, S. A. Woolbright. 2008.
Extending genomics to natural communities and ecosystems. Science 320: 492-495.
Shuster, S. M. and M. J. Wade. 2003.Mating Systems and Strategies. Princeton University Press, Princeton, NJ