Stephen M. Shuster
Office: Bldg. 21 Room 302
and plant mating systems
and female reproductive strategies
and population structure in marine organisms
animal mating systems
- 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. 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
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.
Community Genetics: 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, particularly using invertebrate animals. I am also interested
in exploring statistical approaches for estimating how and to what degree
individuals, species and communities may become genetically and phenotypically
Zoology: I am broadly interested in the evolutionary biology of
invertebrate animals and have expanded this interest into a co-authored
textbook entitled Invertebrates, 3rd
Ed., published in 2016 by Sinauer Associates (now Oxford University Press) with
Richard C. Brusca of the Sonora Desert Museum and Wendy Moore of the University
of Arizona. This book provides the most comprehensive and up to date treatment
of invertebrate biology and evolution now available.
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
Brusca, R. C., W. Moore, and S. M. Shuster.
2016. Invertebrates, 3rd ed. Sinauer Associates, Sunderland MA. 1105
Shuster, S. M. 2016. Operational Sex Ratio
(OSR). Encyclopedia of Evolutionary Biology, R. Kliman, N. Wedell,
eds. vol. 3, pp. 167–174. Oxford: Academic Press.
Hultine, K. R., K. C. Grady, T. E. Wood, S. M.
Shuster, J. C. Stella, T. G. Whitham. 2016. Climate change perils for dioecious
plant species. Nature Plants DOI: 10.1038/NPLANTS.2016.109.
Prather, R. B. and S. M. Shuster. 2015. The
opportunity for post-copulatory sexual selection in the ectoparasitic pea crab,
Dissodactylus primitivus. PLOSOne
Shuster, S. M., W. R. Briggs and P. A. Dennis.
2013. How multiple mating by females affects sexual selection. Philosophical
Transactions of the Royal Society B 368 (1613): 20120046. http://dx.doi.org/10.1098/rstb.2012.0046.
Shuster, S. M. 2009. Sexual selection and
mating systems. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences
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
Shuster, S. M. and M. J. Wade. 2003.Mating
Systems and Strategies. Princeton University Press, Princeton, NJ