WSU logo

Graduate Students

Selected Publications Since 2000

Links to Professional Socities

seal salamander

tiger salamander

Pacific giant salamander

rough skinned newt

softshell turtle

tegu lizard

northwestern salamander

long toed salamander

long tailed salamander

  Verrell Lab

Unraveling Darwin's "mystery of mysteries" since 1983

Paul Verrell was trained as an ethologist at the Open University in England, from where he received his Ph.D. in 1983.  The major research themes in the Verrell Lab concern ultimate questions about the function and evolution of the sexual behavior patterns of animals.  These questions are phrased at three major levels:  among individuals within populations, among populations within species, and among species within clades.  One big goal is to understand how different microevolutionary patterns have produced the macroevolutionary patterns that we see.  Our hypothesis is that much of the diversity of sexual behavior patterns in animals is a result of sexual selection (competition for and choice of mates).

While amphibians are favorite subjects for research in the Verrell Lab, we aren't exclusively salamander and frog people.  We've also conducted work on chameleons, lizards, tarantulas and worms.  And sex isn't our only interest.  For example, past and ongoing projects include studies of territoriality, predator-prey interactions, and behavioral toxicology.  The Verrell Lab is also affiliated with the Center for
Reproductive Biology
at Washington State University and the University of Idaho.

In addition to maintaining an active lab, Paul Verrell also teaches a number of undergraduate and graduate classes, and serves as  Associate Director for Undergraduate Programs in the School of Biological Sciences.  He was also named Outstanding Thesis Advisor by the WSU Honors College in May 2004.

Graduate Students

Below is a list of people past and present who have worked in the Verrell Lab, together with a summary of their interests:

  • Kim Herring (M.S. 1994): Sexual behavior patterns and population divergence in desmognathine salamanders.
  • Cara Shillington (M.S. 1996): The sexual strategies of a North American tarantula.
  • Brook Vinnedge (M.S. 1996): Behavioral correlates of high mating success in male salamanders.
  • Susan Gershman (M.S. 1999): Male and female contributions to mating success in salamanders.
  • Julie Fronzuto (Ph.D. 2000): Predator-prey interactions between two ambystomatid salamanders.
  • Jared Farley (M.S. 2001): Distribution of snakes and toads along the Snake River in southeastern Washington.
  • Megan Hines (M.S. 2001): Behavioral domestication in salmonid fishes.
  • Erin Kelso (M.S. 2001): Courtship in the veiled chameleon.
  • Barry Stephenson (M.S. 2001): Courtship and mating of the tailed frog.
  • David Butler (M.S. 2004): Behavioral toxicology of earthworms.
  • Abbey Davis (M.S. 2004, Ph.D. in progress): Reproductive ecology and demography of the Columbia spotted frog.
  • Michelle Mabry (Ph.D. 2004): Sexual behavior patterns and population divergence in desmognathine salamanders.
  • Kim King (M.S. in progress): The design of nature reserves in western Africa.
  • Evan Young (M.S. in progress): Variation in courtship investment by male salamanders as a function of female responsiveness.
  • Cyndi White (Ph.D. in progress): The behavioral ecology of non-breeding ambystomatid salamanders.
top of page

Selected Publications Since 2000

  • Verrell, P. 2000.  Methoxychlor increases susceptibility to predation in the salamander Ambystoma macrodactylum.  Bulletin of Environmental Contamination and Toxicology 64: 85-92.
  • Verrell, P. and Mabry, M. 2000.  The courtship of plethodontid salamanders: form, function, and phylogeny.  In: The Biology of Plethodontid  Salamanders (R.C. Bruce, R.G. Jaeger, L.D. Houck, Eds).  pp.371-380.  Plenum Press, NY.
  • Gershman, S.N. and Verrell, P.A. 2002.  To persuade or to be persuaded: which sex controls mating in a plethodontid salamander?  Behaviour. 139: 447-462.
  • Kelso, E.C. and Verrell, P.A. 2002.  Do male veiled chameleons, Chamaeleo calyptratus, adjust their courtship displays in response to female reproductive status?  Ethology 108: 495-512.
  • Cipponeri, T. and Verrell, P. 2003.  An uneasy alliance: unequal distribution of affiliative interactions among members of a captive wolf pack. Canadian Journal of Zoology 81:1763-1766.
  • Mabry, M. and Verrell, P. 2003.  All are one and one is all: sexual uniformity among widely separated populations of the North American seal salamander, Desmognathus monticola.  Biological Journal of the Linnean Society 78:1-10.
  • Stephenson, B. and Verrell, P. 2003. Courtship and mating of the tailed frog (Ascaphus truei).  Journal of Zoology, London 259:15-22.
  • Verrell, P. 2003. Population and species divergence of chemical cues that influence male recognition of females in desmognathine salamanders.  Ethology 109:577-58
  • Verrell, P. and Mabry, M. 2003.  Sexual behaviour of the Black Mountain dusky salamander (Desmognathis welteri), and the evolutionary history of courtship in the Desmognathinae.  Journal of Zoology, London 260:367-376.
  • Verrell, P. and Van Buskirk, E. 2004.  As the worm turns: Eisenia fetida avoids soil contaminated by a glyphosate-based herbicide.  Bulletin of Environmental Contamination and Toxicology 72:219-224
  • Lucas, M.D., Drew, R.E., Wheeler, P.A., Verrell, P.A. and Thorgaard, G.H. 2004.  Behavioral differences among rainbow trout clonal lines. Behavior Genetics 34:355-365.
  • Mabry, M. and Verrell, P.A. 2004.  Stifled sex in sympatry: patterns of sexual incompatibility among desmognathine salamanders. Biological Journal  of the Linnean Society 82:367-375.

Links to Professional Societies

The Herpetologist's League

Animal Behavior Society

American Society of Ichthyologists and Herpetologists

Society for the study of Amphibians and Reptiles

Society for Northwestern Vertebrate Biology

Pacific Northwest Amphibian and Reptile Consortium

   top of page