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Daniel Thompson

Associate Professor
School of Life Sciences
Office: WHI 210
Phone: 702-895-3269
Fax: 702-895-3956


My research addresses a variety of topics in ecology and evolution including: evolution of phenotypic plasticity and morphology of grasshoppers, spatial ecology of desert shrubs and rodents, quantitative analysis of bighorn sheep behavior, and molecular evolution of gene families. Phenotypic plasticity, the expression of different phenotypes in different environments, and the integration of plastic traits during development are important aspects of adaptation to variable environments. I study the ecology and evolution of phenotypic plasticity and developmental integration in grasshoppers. There is extensive developmental plasticity and genetic divergence in body, wing, and leg size and shape among populations of the lesser migratory grasshopper, Melanoplus sanguinipes, sampled from mountain meadows and arid grasslands. I am investigating the influence of natural and sexual selection on the evolution of diet- and temperature-induced plastic expression of traits such as morphology, development time, and behavior.


In other research, I collaborate with Dr. L. Walker (UNLV) in studying the recruitment of desert shrubs and the spatial relationships of shrubs, rodent mounds, and islands of soil fertility. I am working with Dr. K. Longshore (USGS) in conducting quantitative analyses of bighorn sheep (Ovis canadensis nelsoni) behavior and habitat selection using daily position information from GPS radio-collared sheep in several desert mountain ranges. I also collaborate with Dr. J. Shen (UNLV) in studying the molecular evolution of gene families, particularly the WRKY genes, of rice (Oryza sativa).

Selected Publications

  • Longshore, K., Lowery, C., and Thompson, D.B. 2009. Compensating for diminishing natural water: Predicting the impacts of water development on summer habitat of bighorn sheep. Journal of Arid Environments 73:280-286
  • Longshore, K., C. Lowrey, D. B. Thompson and M. Jeffress. 2009. Nocturnal movements of desert bighorn sheep in the Muddy Mountains, Nevada. Desert Bighorn Council Transactions 50:18-31
  • Sappington, M., Longshore, K., and Thompson, D.B. Quantifying landscape ruggedness for animal habitat analysis: a case study using bighorn sheep in the Mojave Desert. Journal of Wildlife Management (in press 2007)
  • Thompson, D.B., L.R. Walker, F.H. Landau, and L.R. Stark. 2005. The Influence of Elevation, Shrub Species, and Cryptobiotic Soil Crust on Fertile Islands in the Mojave Desert, USA Journal of Arid Environments 61: 609–629.
  • Xie, Z, Zhang, Z., Zou, X., Huang, J., Ruas P., Thompson D. B. and Shen, Q., J. 2005. Annotations and Functional Analyses of the Rice WRKY Gene Superfamily Reveal Positive and Negative Regulators of Abscisic Acid Signaling in Aleurone Cells. Plant Physiology 137:176-189
  • Thompson, D.B. 1999. Genotype - environment interaction and the ontogeny of diet induced phenotypic plasticity in size and shape of Melanoplus femurrubrum (Orthoptera: Acrididae). Journal of Evolutionary Biology 12:38-48.
  • Thompson, D.B. 1999. Different spatial scales of natural selection and gene flow: The evolution of behavioral geographic variation and phenotypic plasticity. In Foster, S. and J. Endler (eds). Geographic Diversification of Behavior: An Evolutionary Perspective. Oxford University Press
  • Guo, Q., D.B. Thompson, T. Valone, and J.H. Brown. 1995. The effect of vertebrate granivores and folivores on plant community structure in the Chihuahuan Desert. Oikos 73:251-259.
  • Thompson, D.B. 1992. Consumption rates and the evolution of diet-induced plasticity in the head morphology of Melanoplus femurrubrum (Orthoptera: Acrididae). Oecologia 89:204-213.
  • Thompson, D.B., J.H. Brown and W. Spencer. 1991. Indirect facilitation of granivorous birds by desert rodents: Experimental evidence from foraging patterns. Ecology 72:852-863.