Name: Jim Cooper
Field of Study: Evolutionary Morphology
Title: Assistant Professor
Phone: 509-372-7175

PhD, The University of Chicago
MS, The Florida State University

Tri-Cities Campus
Room 133, Suite A
Innovation Center

Mailing Address:
School of Biological Sciences
Washington State University Tri-cities
2710 Crimson Way
Richland, WA 99354

Research Interests
My studies are directed at understanding the adaptive divergence of cranial anatomy in fishes. I have a particular interest in the functionally intricate skulls of those fishes in the lineage Percomorpha, which not only represent one of the most species-rich branches of the vertebrate tree, but who also exhibit a phenomenal range of skull morphologies, cranial biomechanics, and feeding strategies. Percomorph evolution has involved the reshaping of highly complex crania into strongly divergent forms, while simultaneously maintaining functional integration between reconfigured skeletal and muscular elements. Much of my current research is focused on skull evolution in one specific branch of the percomorph tree: the damselfishes (Pomacentridae). Damselfishes constitute a successful lineage of near-shore reef fishes that includes the familiar anemonefishes (i.e., the “clownfishes”), and they are found in abundance on all coral reefs throughout the tropics. I am strongly interested in how genetic changes have affected fish skull evolution by altering cranial morphogenesis during development, and the ease with which many damselfishes can be raised in aquaria facilitates performing comparative developmental studies of an important adaptive radiation.

Representative Publications
R. Craig Albertson, W. James Cooper and Kenneth Mann. 2012. More than meets the eye: Functionally salient changes in internal bone architecture accompany divergence in cichlid feeding mode. International Journal of Evolutionary Biology. 2012: 538146

W. James Cooper, James Wernle, Kenneth Mann, and R. Craig Albertson. 2011. Functional and Genetic Integration in the Skulls of Lake Malawi Cichlids. Evolutionary Biology. 38(3): 316-334

Parsons, K., V. Andreeva, W. J. Cooper, P. C. Yelick, and R. C. Albertson. 2011. Morphogenesis of the zebrafish jaw: Development beyond the embryo, in M. Westerfield, H. W. Detrich and L. I. Zon, eds. Methods in Cell Biology: The Zebrafish, 3rd Edition. Elsevier Academic Press Inc., San Diego.

W. James Cooper, & Scott J. Steppan. 2010. Developmental Constraint on the Evolution of Marsupial Forelimb Morphology. Australian Journal of Zoology. 58(1): 1-15

W. James Cooper, Kevin Parsons, Alyssa McIntyre, Brittany Kern, Alana McGee-Moore, and R. Craig Albertson. 2010. Bentho-pelagic divergence of cichlid feeding architecture was prodigious and consistent during multiple adaptive radiations within African rift-lakes. PLoS ONE. 5(3): e9551. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0009551

Kevin Parsons, W. James Cooper, and R. Craig Albertson. 2009. Limits of Principal Components Analysis for Producing a Common Trait Space: Implications for Inferring Selection, Contingency, and Chance in Evolution. PLoS ONE. 4:11 e7957. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0007957

W. James Cooper, Lydia L Smith, & M. W. Westneat. 2009. Exploring the radiation of a diverse reef fish family: Phylogenetics of the damselfishes (Pomacentridae), with new classifications based on molecular analyses of all genera. Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution. 52 (1-16)

W. James Cooper & M. W. Westneat. 2009. Form and Function of Damselfish Skulls: Rapid and Repeated Evolution into a limited Number of Trophic Niches. BMC Evolutionary Biology. 9:24. doi:10.1186/1471-2148-9-24

W. James Cooper. 2009. The Biogeography Of Damselfish Skull Evolution: A Major Radiation Throughout The Indo-West Pacific Produces No Unique Skull Shapes. in The Proceedings of the 11th International Coral Reef Symposium

W. James Cooper, & R. C. Albertson. 2008. Quantification and variation in experimental studies of morphogenesis. Developmental Biology. 321: 295-302

Rice, A. N., W. James Cooper, & M. W. Westneat. 2008. Diversification of coordination patterns during feeding behaviour in Cheiline wrasses. Biological Journal of the Linnean Society. 93(2): 289-308

Westneat, M. W., Betz, O., Blob, R. W., Fezzaa, K., W. James Cooper. & Lee, W. K. 2003. Tracheal respiration in insects visualized with synchrotron X-ray imaging. Science. 299 (5606): 558-560