Hugh Lefcort, Ph.D.

Professor of Biology

I am a behavioral ecologist interested in ecotoxicology and the effects of pollution on prey anti-predatory behavior. My students and I study the behavioral effects of heavy metal pollution from hard rock mines on the fright response of water fleas. Recently...

Dr. Hugh Lefcort

Contact Information

Education & Curriculum Vitae

Ph.D., Zoology, Oregon State University, 1993

B.A., Anthropology, University of Washington, 1985

Courses Taught

ENVS 200

BIOL 106

BIOL 205

BIOL 206

BIOL 313

BIOL 399

BIOL 499


I am a behavioral ecologist interested in ecotoxicology and the effects of pollution on prey anti-predatory behavior. My students and I study the behavioral effects of heavy metal pollution from hard rock mines on the fright response of water fleas. Recently we have been looking at how a global rise in atmospheric carbon dioxide may be altering the responses of the animals by making water more acidic. I am always looking for diligent and intellectually curious students to become a part of the lab for research projects.

Refereed Publications (* Gonzaga Undergraduates)

Lefcort, H, Cleary, DA, Marble, AM*, Phillips, MV*, Stoddard, TJ*, Tuthill, LM, & Winslow, JR. 2015. Snails from heavy-metal polluted environments have reduced sensitivity to carbon dioxide-induced acidity. SpringerPlus 4:1-9.

Lefcort, H and Lefcort, C. 2014. Cheatgrass (Bromus tectorum) seeds are still viable after laundry cycle. Natural Areas Journal 34:505-508.

Lefcort, H, Wehner, EA*, Cocco, PL*. 2013. Pre-exposure to heavy metal pollution and the odor of predation reduce the ability of snails to avoid stressors. Archives of Environmental Contamination and Toxicology 64:273-280.

Lefcort, H and Pettoello, CL.* 2012. White tailed deer are associated with the spread of exotic forbs. Natural Areas Journal 32:159-165.

Lefcort, H, Humphries, A*, Tordillos, K *, Vancura, J* Wood, S.* 2012. Aquatic snails detect and avoid both heavy metals and fright odor on sand substrates. In: Snails: Biology, Ecology and Conservation. Ed: Hamalainen, E. M. and Jarvinen, S. Nova Science Publishing, Happauge, NY. Pages 163-172. ISBN: 978-1-62100-816-3.

Lefcort, H, Vancura, J*, and Lider, E. 2010. 75 Years after mining ends stream insect diversity is still affected by heavy metals. Ecotoxicology 19:1416-1425.

Lefcort, H, Freedman, Z*, House, S* and Pendleton, M.* 2008. Hormetic effects of heavy metals in aquatic snails: Is a little bit of pollution good? EcoHealth 5:10-17.

Lefcort, H, Ben-Ami, F, Heller, J. 2006. Terrestrial snails use predator-diet to assess danger. Journal of Ethology 24:97-102.

Lefcort, H, Abbott, D*, Cleary, D, Howell*, E, Keller*, N, Smith*, M.* 2004. Aquatic snails from mining sites have evolved to detect and avoid heavy metals. Archives of Environmental Contamination and Toxicology 46:478-484.

McLaughlin N*, McLaughlin D, Lefcort H. 2003. The influence of socio-economic factors on Helicobacter pylori infection rates of students in rural Zambia. Central African Journal of Medicine, 49:38-41.

Lefcort, H, and Eiger, S. 2003. Prepatory vs. practice homework: A test using university biology students. Journal of College Science Teaching 33:16-18.

Lefcort, H, Aguon, M*, Bond, K*, Chapman, K*, Chaquette, R*, Clark, J*, Kornachuk, P*, Lang, B, Martin, J.* 2002. Indirect Effects of Heavy Metals on Parasites May Cause Shifts in Snail Species Compositions. Archives of Environmental Contamination and Toxicology 43:34-41.

Lefcort, H, Ammann, E*, Eiger, S. M. 2000. Antipredatory behavior as an index of heavy-metal pollution? A test using snails and caddisflies. Archives of Environmental Contamination and Toxicology 38:311-316.

 Lefcort, H, Thomson, S*, Cowles, E*, Harowicz, H*, Livaudais, B*, Roberts, W, & Ettinger, W. 1999. Ramification of predator avoidance: predator and heavy metal mediated competition between tadpoles and snails. Ecological Applications 9:1477-1489.

Lefcort, H, Meguire, R*, Wilson, L*, & Ettinger, W. F. 1998. Heavy metals alter the survival, growth, metamorphosis, and antipredatory behavior of Columbia spotted frog (Rana luteiventris) tadpoles. Archives of Environmental Contamination and Toxicology 35:447-456.

Lefcort, H. 1998. A chemically mediated fright-response in southern toad, Bufo terrestris, tadpoles. Copeia 1998:445-450.

Lefcort, H., Hancock, K., Maur, K. & Rostal, D. 1997. The effects of used motor oil and silt on the growth, survival, and the ability to detect predators by tiger salamanders, Ambystoma tigrinum. Archives of Environmental Contamination and Toxicology 32:383-388.

Lefcort, H. and Durden, L. 1996. The effect of infection with Lyme disease spirochetes (Borrelia burgdorferi) on the phototaxis, activity, and questing height of the tick vector Ixodes scapularis. Parasitology 113: 97-103.

Lefcort, H. 1996. An adaptive, chemically mediated fright response in tadpoles of the southern leopard frog, Rana utricularia. Copeia, 1996:455-459.

Lefcort, H. and Blaustein, A. 1995. Disease, predator avoidance, and vulnerability to predation in tadpoles. Oikos, 74:469-474.

Lefcort, H. and Eiger, S. 1993. Antipredatory behaviour of feverish tadpoles: implications for pathogen transmission. Behaviour 126:13-47.

Wilson, D. and Lefcort, H. 1993. The effect of predator diet on the alarm response of red legged frog (Rana aurora) tadpoles. Animal Behaviour 46:1017-1019.

Zhang, L. and Lefcort, H. 1991. The effect of ploidy level on the thermal distributions of brine shrimp Artemia parthenogenetica. Heredity 66:445-452.

Lefcort, H.; Zhang, L. & King, C. 1991. Distributions of diploid and pentaploid brine shrimp Artemia parthenogenetica in an illuminated thermal gradient. Canadian Journal of Zoology 69:2461-2465.

Lefcort, H., Hokit, D, Beatty, J. and Hakelev, C. 1991. Thamnophis sirtalis fitchi (Valley Garter Snake) feeding behavior. Herpetological Review 22:101.

Lefcort, H. and Blaustein, A. 1991. Parasite load and brightness in lizards: an interspecific test of the Hamilton and Zuk hypothesis. Journal of Zoology (London) 224:491-499.

Lefcort, H. and Bayne, C. 1991. Temperature distributions of resistant and susceptible strains of Biomphalaria glabrata (Gastropoda) exposed to Schistosoma mansoni. Parasitology 103:357-362.

Blaustein, A. R., Chang, K. S., Lefcort, H. G., and R. K. O'Hara. 1990. Toad tadpole kin recognition: recognition of half siblings and the role of maternal cues. Ethology, Ecology and Evolution 2:215-226.

  • Predator-Prey Behavior
  • Exotoxicology