George W Uetz
Professor | Behavioral Ecology
Philosophy - Affiliate Faculty
Biological Sciences - Tenure-Track Faculty
821f Rieveschl Hall
B.A., Albion College, Albion, MI, 1968 (Biology).
M.S., University of Delaware, Newark, DE, 1970 (Entomology and Applied Ecology).
Ph.D., University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign, 1976 (Ecology, Ethology and Evolution).
ECBR, SBBE, Behavioral ecology, arachnology: multi-modal communication and sexual selection in wolf spiders; social behavior in colonial web-building spiders.
I study animal behavior and ecology, with the goal of understanding how the environment influences the evolution of behavior. I am interested in questions about both the proximate mechanisms and selective forces involved in communication and social behaviors: How do animals recognize their own species? What sensory cues are used to discriminate conspecifics from similar species? How do animals detect signals from mates, prey or predators and distinguish them from environmental noise? What role does habitat play in animal communication? Why do some animals live in groups while others remain solitary? Are animals in groups an easier target for predators, or is there safety in numbers? How do animals in groups communicate with each other? What role does relatedness and genetic structure of populations play in the evolution of group-living?
The major focus of my research is the behavioral ecology of spiders, whose small size, short life span, and behavioral diversity make them excellent model systems for investigation. I use both field-based observational studies and laboratory experimentation to approach these questions. My students and I are currently involved in several research projects:
1. Wolf spiders – studies of multi-modal communication, mate recognition and sexual selection. This project investigates how spiders communicate in multiple sensory modes, using video / audio digitization and playback techniques in the lab, and recording of vibration and visual signals in the field. (Read More)
2. El Niño influence on group formation and genetic structure of colonial web-building spiders. This project examines changes in the genetic structure of populations of the colonial web-building spider Metepeira spinipes on the Monterey peninsula in California, in response to to El Niño cycles. (Read More)