Greg Grether is a professor of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology and a fellow of the Animal Behavior Society. He and members of his lab have worked on a diverse assortment of animals in a wide range of habitats. The common thread through all of the projects is the role of animal behavior in ecological and evolutionary processes. Some projects have an applied conservation focus while others are aimed purely at advancing knowledge of the natural world.
Greg received his PhD from UC Davis in 1995, was an NSF postdoctoral fellow at UC Santa Barbara in 1996-98, and joined the UCLA faculty in 1999. His research is supported primarily by the National Science Foundation. He teaches undergraduate and graduate courses in evolutionary biology and animal behavior and a field course in behavioral ecology through the Field Biology Quarter program.
Graduate Students and Post docs
Robert Cooper is a PhD candidate in Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, co-advised by Greg Grether and Brad Shaffer. He is interested in how human disturbance influences native species in California, specifically in reptiles and amphibians. He is investigating this dynamic in the California tiger salamander, which has been rapidly hybridizing with an introduced salamander. Robert is using differential gene expression to identify differences in thermal tolerance between the native, invasive and hybrid salamanders, and the genetic mechanisms that drive them. He is also exploring the use of pond hydroperiod as a management tool to slow, stop, or even reverse the spread of non-native alleles through the landscape.
Madeline Cowen is a PhD student in Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, advised by Greg Grether. She has previously studied behavioral ecology of red-backed fairy-wrens and breeding and dispersal patterns in California scrub-jays. Her current research explores her interest in understanding how competition and behavioral interactions between species relate to trait evolution and biodiversity. She is conducting a phylogenetic comparative study of North American songbirds to identify traits that predict territoriality between species in this diverse order of birds.
Janine Fischer is a PhD student in Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, co-advised by Greg Grether and Debra Shier. She is interested in how interspecific competition affects species coexistence, especially in the context of endangered species reintroductions. Currently she is planning on studying interspecific interference competition between the endangered Pacific pocket mouse and a dominant competitor, the Dulzura kangaroo rat, at reintroduction sites. She is interested in whether high densities of the Dulzura kangaroo rat affect reintroduction success and whether familiarization between the competitors prior to release can reduce costly aggressive interactions between them. She will be recording interactions between the competitors both in a controlled environment and in the field in order to answer these questions.
Shawn McEachin is a PhD candidate in Ecology and Evolutionary Biology advised by Greg Grether. He is interested in how species select the habitats they occupy and how interspecific competition affects habitat use. Specifically, he studies species of rubyspot damselflies that occur in the same location and compete with each other. Male rubyspots defend their territories against males of their own species and against other rubyspot species that have similar wing coloration. Is it possible that one species can exclude another species from its preferred habitat? Is it possible to reduce interspecific competition by using different parts of the habitat? To answer these questions, Shawn carries out various experiments and observations throughout Costa Rica collecting data on damselfly behavior and habitat use. His dissertation will shed light on the processes involved in habitat selection and how competition affects habitat use.
Samantha Snowden is a Master’s student in Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, co-advised by Greg Grether and Debra Shier. Her previous work includes assessing impacts of forest management on species of concern and contributing to long-term monitoring of bird populations. Currently, she aims to inform endangered species conservation efforts by studying how species interactions impact coexistence and habitat use.
Madeleine Zuercher is a PhD student in Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, co-advised by Greg Grether and Debra Shier. Her previous research projects include investigating dental variation in flying foxes, responses of sparrows to predator cues, and habitat preferences and population ecology of midwestern bats. She is broadly interested in how interactions between species, especially competition, drive changes in their behavior and ecology as well as exploring applications to conservation.