Brook O. Swanson, Ph.D.

Professor of Biology

I am a comparative physiologist. My teaching focuses on helping students to learn how organisms work and facilitating their application of this knowledge to diverse problems, from human health to conservation. My research seeks to explain the diversity...

Brook Swanson

Contact Information

Education & Curriculum Vitae

Ph.D., Biology, Northern Arizona University

B.S., Biological Sciences, Florida Institute of Technology

Courses Taught

Biol 105: Information Flow in Biological systems

Biol 104: Human Ecology

Biol 159/359: Field studies in biodiversity

Biol 205: Physiology and Biodiversity

Biol 341 Human Physiology

Biol 193: First Year Seminar: Art and Science of Dance

Biol 480: Marine Biology

I am a comparative physiologist. My teaching focuses on helping students to learn how organisms work and facilitating their application of this knowledge to diverse problems, from human health to conservation. My research seeks to explain the diversity of animal form and function.

2016 - Mills MR*, Nemri RS*, Carlson EA*, Wilde W*, Gotoh H, Lavine LC, Swanson BO. Functional mechanics of beetle mandibles: Honest signaling in a sexually selected system. J. Exp. Zool. 325A:3–12.

2015 - Oldfield, Mandrekar, Nieves, Hendrickson, Chakrabarty, Swanson, Hofmann. Parental care in the Cuatro Ciénegas cichlid, Herichthys minckleyi (Teleostei: Cichlidae). Hydrobiologia 748:233-257.

2013 - Swanson, George*, Anderson*, and Christy. Evolutionary variation in the mechanics of fiddler crab claws. BMC Evolutionary Biology 2013 13:137.

2012 - Weaver, Milliron, Miserez, Evans-Lutterodt, Herrera, Gallana, Mershon, Swanson, Zavattieri, DiMasi, and Kisailus. The Stomatopod Dactyl Club: A Formidable Damage-Tolerant Biological Hammer. Science. Vol. 336 no. 6086 pp. 1275-1280.

2011 - Baumgartner A*, Coleman S, Swanson B. The Cost of the Sword: Escape Performance in Male Swordtails. PLoS ONE 6(1): e15837. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0015837

2009 - Swanson, B.O., Anderson, S.*, DiGiovine, C.*, Ross, R.*, Dorsey, J.* Evolution of complex biomaterial performance: the case of spider silk. Integrative and Comparative Biology 49:21-31.

2009 - Dean, M., Swanson, B.O., Summers, A.P. Biomaterials: properties, variation and evolution. Integrative and Comparative Biology 49: 15-20.

2009 -  Collin, M., Camama, E., Swanson, B.O., Edgerly, J.S., Hayashi, C.Y. Comparison of embiopteran silks reveals tensile and structural similarities across taxa. Biomacromolecules 10.1021/bm900449p.

2008 - Swanson, B.O., Gibb, A.C., Marks, J.C., Hendrickson, D.A. Variation in foraging behavior facilitates resource partitioning in a polymorphic cichlid, Herichthys minckleyi. Environmental Biology of Fishes. 83:147-154

2007 -  Swanson, B.O., Blackledge, T.A., Hayashi, C.Y. Spider capture silk: performance implications of variation in an exceptional biomaterial. Journal of Experimental Zoology 307(11): 654-666.

2007 -  Gibb, A.C., Swanson, B.O. Liu, C.* Heterochrony and the development of the escape response: prehatching movements in the rainbow trout Oncorhynchus mykiss. Journal of Experimental Zoology 307(10): 556-567.

2006 - Swanson, B.O., Blackledge, T.A., Summers, A.P., Hayashi, C.Y. Spider dragline silk: correlated and mosaic evolution in high performance biological materials. Evolution 60:2539-2551.

2006 - Swanson, B.O., Blackledge, T.A., Beltrán, J.* Hayashi, C.Y. Variation in the material properties of spider dragline silk across species. Journal of Applied Physics A 82(2). 213-218.

2006 - Gibb, A.C., Swanson, B.O., Wesp, H.M., Landels, C.*, and Liu, C.* The development of escape performance in teleost fishes: Do ontogenetic changes enable improved escape performance? Physiological and Biochemical Zoology. 79(1). 7-19.

2005 - Swanson, B.O., Gibb, A.C., Marks, J.C., Hendrickson, D.A. Do kinematics vary between lab and field feeding behaviors in a Mexican cichlid? Environmental Biology of Fishes. 74(2). 199-206.

2004 Swanson, B.O., and Gibb, A.C. Kinematics of aquatic and terrestrial escape responses in mudskippers. Journal of Experimental Biology.207: 4037-4044.

2003 - Swanson, B.O., Gibb, A.C., Marks, J.C., Hendrickson, D.A. Trophic polymorphism and behavioral differences decrease intra-specific competition in a cichlid, Herichthys minckleyi. Ecology 84(6). 1441-1446.

* denotes undergraduate student author.

The Swanson Lab studies how complex mechanical systems evolve in animals. Recent work has focused on the evolution of sexually selected weapons in crabs and beetles. We have opportunities for undergraduate researchers to work on a project studying the behavior and mechanics of rhinoceros beetles. This project is a collaboration with the University of Montana and seeks to understand the evolution of rhinoceros beetle horns from the genes responsible for their development to their fitness consequences in the wild. Our specific work fits between these two ideas and seeks to connect genetic variation with mechanics and mechanics with fitness in these beetles. Research students are involved in experimental design, data collection (in the field and in the lab), data analysis, writing, and presentations.