Research Lab: Graduate Students

Dr. Mathis' Lab Supervisor

Ben Dalton

Bachelor's degree from William Jewell College

Master's degree from Missouri State University

Research: Salamander Behavior

Current Graduate Students

Caleb O'Neal

Bachelor's Degree from Harding University

Research: Effects of heavy metals on darter behavior.

Sarah White

Bachelor's Degree from Missouri State University

Research: Darter crypsis and antipredator behavior

Megan Mosier

Bachelor's Degree from Christian Brothers University

Research: Territoriality and Exploration in the Southern Red-backed Salamander

Shannon Johnson

Bachelor's Degree from University of Central Missouri

Research: Antipredator responses across life stages in Eurycea
*out of school, awaiting manuscript

Abbie Knudsen

Bachelor's Degree from Drury University

Research: Public conception of the conservation status of big cats
*out of school, awaiting manuscript

Past Graduate Students

After Graduation



Stephanie Morrison MS, 2019. Behavioral analysis of electroshocked egg and subadult Cryptobranchus alleganiensis alleganiensis and larvae with yolk, larvae post-yolk, and post-metamprphic juvenile Cryptobranchus alleganiensis bishopi

Biology Teacher, Christian Brothers College High School

Best Student Presentation, Hellbender SYmposium, 2019

Amber Hunter MS, 2019. Recovery of domestic behaviors by a parasitic ant (Formica subintegra) in the absence of its host (Formica subsericea)

Outstanding Oral Presentation, MSU Interdisciplinary Forum, 2018

Katy Gardner MS, 2019. Response to conspecific alarm cues by Spotted Salamanders (Ambystoma maculatum) larvae.

PhD Student, Utah State University

Outstanding Oral Presentation, MSU Interdisciplinary Forum, 2018

Bio dept Chili Cook-off Champion, Alternataive Chili, 2017, 2018

Ethol Ecol Evol
2019: 1-17

Sarah Heimbach MS, 2019. Territorial behavior of the Ozark Zigzag Salamander, Plethodon angusticlavius, altered by mode of predator cue and sex of intruder.

Colton Lynn MS, 2018. Territorial Behavior in Southern Red-Backed and Ozark Zigzag Salamanders

Oregon National Primate Research Center, Research Assistant 2

Distinguished Biology TA, 2018

MSU Distinguished Teaching Assistant Award, 2018

Behaviour 156: 1017-1037

Rachel Settle MS, 2017. Quantitative behavioral analysis of Ozark Hellbender reproduction and paternal care.

Fisheries and Wildlife Biological Scientist, Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission

J Ethol 2018: 1-8

Frontiers Ecol Evol 6: 205

Kayla Shelton MS, 2016. Behavioral responses of Ringed and Spotted Salamanders to diet-related cues from predators.

Kelsey Anderson MS, 2016. Friends in low places: Responses of a benthic stream fish to intra-guild alarm cues.

Biological Science Technician, USFWS

Outstanding Thesis Award, 2015

3 Minute Thesis, 1st Place

ethology 122: 954-962

Lauren Rudolph MS, 2015. Variation in behavior of different populations and sex classes of paedomorphic Oklahoma salamanders

Wafa Abudayah MS, 2014. Predator recognition learning in rainbow darters (Etheostoma caeruleum)

J Fish Biol 89: 1612-1623

Rachel Bortosky. MS, 2014. Honest signaling in aggressive contests between Ozark zigzag salamanders (Plethodon angusticlavius)

Adjunct, Ozarks Community Technical College

Copeia 104: 60-66

Travis Reeder. MS, 2013. A behavioral syndrome in the southern red-backed salamander (Plethodon serratus)

Reptile Keeper, San Diego Zoo

Emilee Helton. MS, 2013. Learning of dietary cues by embryos and larvae of ringed salamanders (Ambystoma annulatum)

Naturalist, Grand Teton National Park

Animal behaviour 142: 199-206

Ben Dalton. Identification of sex and parasitism via chemical cues by the Ozark zigzag salamander.

Lab Supervisor, Missouri State University

Chemoecology 24:189-199

Robert Hunt. MS, 2011, Behavioral and metabolic responses of juvenile spotted salamanders (Ambystoma maculatum) to alarm cues from damaged skin and predator diet.

Watershed Center Coord, Watershed Comm of the Ozarks

Ethol Ecol Evol
2019: 1-17

Jenny Parsons. MS, 2010. Response to predation risk by territory owners and intruders in Ozark zigzag salamanders.

Vet Asst, Springfield Animal Advocacy

David Woods. MS, 2008. Sub-lethal effects of copper on foraging and alarm behavior of rainbow darters (Etheostoma caeruleum).

Fish Biologist, Missouri Department of Conservation

Behaviour 146:1565-1572

Brian Gall. MS, 2008. Predator-prey interactions between hellbenders (Cryptobranchus alleganiensis alleganiensis and C. a. bishopi) and native and nonnative fishes.

PhD, Utah State University

Faculty, Hanover College, IN

MSU Biology Department Outstanding Thesis Award

Behaviour 146:1565-1572

Morgan Presley. MS, 2008, Foraging tactics of the Ozark zigzag salamander under predation pressure

Kyle Shull. MS, 2007. Influence of physical stress, sex, and body size on metabolic rates of Ozark zigzag salamanders, Plethodon angusticlavius.

Dental School

Nathan Windel. MS, 2005. Behavioral and metabolic responses o f the southern red-backed salamander (Plethodon serratus) to predatory stimuli: influence of body size.

High school science teacher

Distinguished Thesis Award: Biology Dept & MSU overall

Herpetologists' League Jaeger Award for Graduate Research

Proc Royal Soc B 275: 2603–2607

Angela Gibson. MS, 2004. Experience with chemical cues influences subsequent behavior of rainbow darters, Etheostoma caeruluem.

Curator of Africa exhibit, Dickerson Park Zoo, Springfield, Missouri

J Fish Biol 69:224-232

Shem Unger. MS, 2003. Sperm production and larval development in hellbenders (Cryptobranchus alleganiensis alleganiensis and C. a. bishopi): a comparison of declining and stable populations.

PhD, Purdue University

Post-doc: Savannah River Ecology Lab

Distinguished Thesis Award: Biology Dept & MSU overall

Am Midl Nat170:382-392

Herpetol Rev 44: 547-550

Ethology 118:57-62

Caleb Hickman. MS, 2002. Response of salamanders to chemical stimuli from predators in natural habitats

PhD, Univ Wisconsin

Supervisory Fish and Wildlife Biologist Eastern Band of the Cherokee

Finalist, Herpetologists' League Jaeger Award

Herpetologica 60:203-210

Ethology 109:159-170s

Amy Commens. MS, 2000. Response of three species of darters of the genus Etheostoma to chemical alarm signals from conspecfics and congeners

Biologist, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service

Copeia 2007:838-843

Paul Frese. MS, 2000. Spatial activity, growth, and population characteristics of Siren intermedia in an intensively managed wetland.

Iowa Dept of Natural Resources

Southwest Nat 48:534-542

Todd Watson. MS, 2001. The influence of predation risk on the foraging and territorial behavior of the Ozark zigzag salamander (Plethodon angusticlavius)

Where oh where is Todd?

Behav Proc 65:201-209

Benjamin Wheeler.MS, 1999. Status of the Ozark hellbender (Cryptobranchus alleganiensis bishopi): a long-term assessment.

PhD, Arkansas State University

Faculty, Univ of Arkansas Community College at Batesville

Biol Conserv 109:151-156

Aaron Sullivan. MS, 1999. Reproduction, body condition and dietary variation of the lesser siren (Siren intermedia).

PhD, State University of New York at Binghamton

Faculty, Houghton College (NY)

J Herpetol 34:607-611

Ethan Prosen. MS, 1999. Status of the eastern hellbeners (Cryptobranchus alleganiensis alleganiensis) in Missouri: a comparison of past and present populations.

PhD, University of Louisiana at Lafayette

Faculty, New Jersey City University

MSU Biology Department Distinguished Thesis Award

Biol Conserv 109:151-156

Daria Maksimowich. MS, 1998. A role for parasites in the behavior of the Ozark zigzag salamander, Plethodon angusticlavius.

Community Pet Hospital, Thornton, CO

Acta Ethol 3:83-87

Ethology 106:319-329

Kaye Goddard. MS, 1996. Opercular flaps as sexual ornaments for male longear sunfish.

Biologist, General Pet

Best Master's Thesis Award, MO chapter of the American Fisheries Society

Ethology 106:631-643

Ethol, Ecol, Evolu 3:223-231

David Woody. MS, 1996. The role of alarm pheromones in predation avoidance by adult central newts, Notophthalmus viridescens.

Johnson and Johnson, La Jolla, CA

Copeia 1998:1027-1031

J Herpetol 31:316-318