Biological Sciences

< Back to list

Patrick Anthony Guerra

Title: Assistant Professor
Office: 820B Rieveschl Hall
Tel: 513-556-9717

SBBE; sensory ecology; orientation and navigation mechanisms; animal architecture; animal movement patterns and life history traits; insect flight; cocoon construction; circadian biology; biomimetics


  • BSc, University of Toronto, Toronto, ON (Biology and Philosophy).
  • MSc, University of Toronto, Toronto, ON (Biology).
  • PhD, McGill University, Montreal, QC (Biology).

Research Information

Research Interests

The overarching goal of our work is to understand how animals use different types of sensory cues, derived from the world around them, in order to inform behavioral decision-making. In particular, we investigate how animals perceive and use sensory cues to faciliate movement across broad spatial and temporal scales. Understanding animal movement is important since it can strongly influence individual survivorship and fitness, and for many species, it is a crucial aspect of their biology that is now under threat due to contemporary environmental stressors.

We study monarch butterflies and their iconic long-distance migration in North America as a system to better understand large-scale animal movement phenomenon (e.g., migration). Our work focuses on examining how monarch butterflies use various sensory-based orientation mechanisms to guide them during their long-distance journey.

We also study cecropia moths and their construction of complex dimorphic, multi-layered cocoons, as a way to examine small-scale animal movement behavior (e.g., animal architecture). This research aims to understand the function and evolution of complex architectural design in cocoons which serve as overwintering structures for individuals. 

In addition to the basic knowledge on animal movement that our research yields, our work can inspire biomedical, biomimetic, and engineering applications, as well as provide information that can help preserve such wonders of nature.

If you are interested in joining the lab, please email me and I would be happy to discuss research opportunities. Inquiries about conducting undergraduate, graduate, and postdoctoral research are welcome.


Peer-reviewed Publications

  • Guerra, P. A., & Reppert, S. M. (2017). Dimorphic cocoons of the cecropia moth (Hyalophora cecropia): morphological, behavioral, and biophysical differences. PLOS ONE, 12 (3), e0174023.
  • Reppert, S. M., Guerra, P. A., & Merlin, C. (2016). Neurobiology of monarch butterfly migration. Annual Review of Entomology, 61, 25-42.
  • Guerra, P. A., & Reppert, S. M. (2015). Sensory basis of lepidopteran migration: focus on the monarch butterfly. Current Opinion in Neurobiology, 34, 20-28.
  • Guerra, P. A., Gegear, R. J., & Reppert, S. M. (2014). A magnetic compass aids monarch butterfly migration. Nature Communications, 5, 4164.
  • Guerra, P. A., & Reppert, S. M. (2013). Coldness triggers northward flight in remigrant monarch butterflies. Current Biology, 23, 419-423.
  • Guerra, P. A., Merlin, C., Gegear, R. J., & Reppert, S. M. (2012). Discordant timing between antennae disrupts sun compass orientation in migratory monarch butterflies. Nature Communications, 3, 958.
  • Guerra, P. A. (2011). Evaluating the life-history trade-off between dispersal capability and reproduction in wing dimorphic insects: a meta-analysis. Biological Reviews, 86, 813-835.
  • Guerra, P. A., & Pollack, G. S. (2010). Colonists and Desperadoes: different fighting strategies in wing dimorphic male Texas field crickets. Animal Behaviour, 79, 1087-1093.
  • Guerra, P. A., & Pollack, G. S. (2009). Flight behaviour attenuates the trade-off between flight capability and reproduction in a wing polymorphic cricket. Biology Letters, 5, 229-231.
  • Guerra, P. A., & Pollack, G. S. (2007). A life history trade-off between flight ability and reproductive behavior in male field crickets (Gryllus texensis). Journal of Insect Behavior, 20, 377-387.
  • Guerra, P. A., & Mason, A. C. (2005). Male competition and aggregative behaviour are mediated by acoustic cues within a temporally unstructured aggregation. Behaviour, 142, 71-90.
  • Guerra, P. A., & Mason, A. C. (2005). Information on resource quality mediates aggression between male Madagascar hissing cockroaches, Gromphadorhina portentosa (Dictyoptera: Blaberidae). Ethology, 111, 626-637.
  • Montealegre-Z, F., Guerra, P. A., & Morris, G. K. (2003). Panoploscelis specularis (Orthoptera: Tettigoniidae: Pseudophyllinae): extraordinary female sound generator, male description, male protest and calling signals. Journal of Orthoptera Research, 12, 173-181.
  • Guerra, P. A., & Morris, G. K. (2002). Calling communication in meadow katydids (Orthoptera, Tettigoniidae): female preferences for species-specific wingstroke rates. Behaviour, 139, 23-43.

Experience & Service

Post Graduate training and Education

  • Postdoctoral fellow, University of Missouri, Columbia, MO.
  • Postdoctoral fellow, University of Massachusetts Medical School, Worcester, MA.
  • Visiting Researcher/Scholar, University of Texas at Austin, Austin, TX.