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ABOUT DR. PAUL J. WATSON

My research focuses on the evolution of social and sexual behavior in taxa ranging from arthropods to humans. My interests center on the evolutionary adaptiveness of contingent responses of animal and human minds to challenges associated with sexual reproduction and social living. My nearly continuous studies of the sexual selection system of the sierra dome spider, Neriene (Linyphia) litigiosa (Linyphiidae), are now in their 40th year. These studies are unique in that they integrate field and lab work, include experimental manipulations of factors affecting sexual decision-making in nature, consider the effect of a probable sexually transmited disease on the structure of the mating system as well as individual variation in male and female mating decisions, and address seldom examined issues of how processes of male-male competition and female choice co-evolve and interact to form a "whole" mating system. See: McCullough et al. 2016 for a clear discussion of the latter issue. I involve graduate and advanced undergraduate students in all my research, and spend a good deal of time advising students on their own projects.

Late in my graduate career at Cornell, I was invited by the then, “Max Planck Institute for Behavioural Physiology,” Seewiesen, to set up from scratch (!), a full laboratory for performing isozyme-based paternity exclusion analyses in virtually any species; this was before the time that direct DNA-based paternity analyses were feasible. I had developed expertise in these highly esoteric methods at Cornell’s own isozyme lab under the sage instruction of Dr. Bernard May, in connection with my early research on the sexual selection system of the sierra dome spider. Upon completion of setup, I made a first attempt to look at genetic relatedness amongst individuals from different colonies of African social spiders (Stegodyphus sp.) Major colleagues: Drs. Uli Reyer, Walter Arnold, Uta Seibt, and Wolfgang Wickler. What a challenging, magical, stimulating time that was! See: https://www.orn.mpg.de/3149/History.

  • Ph.D., Biology, 1988. Cornell University, Section of Neurobiology and Behavior, Ithaca, NY.

  • Major: Behavioral Biology, S.T. Emlen and P.W. Sherman.

    • Minor 1: Ecological Genetics, T. Eisner

    • Minor 2: Bioorganic Chemistry, J. Meinwald

    • Minor 3: Neurobiology, R. Harris-Warrick

Doctoral Thesis: The Adaptive Functions of Sequential Polyandry in the Spider Linyphia litigiosa (Linyphiidae). 

(These days, Linyphia litigiosa = Neriene litigiosa).

 Bachelor 's Thesis: Freezing Low Temperature Tolerance in the Cactus Opuntia fragilis (Cactaceae).

  • NSF Postdoctoral Research Fellow, 1988-1989. Research on same topic as NATO fellowship. Funds provided as supplement to research grant of R. Thornhill and D. Ligon, based on an independent proposal by Watson (12 months). University of New Mexico, Biology Department, R. Thornhill and O. Baca advisors.

  • NATO-NSF Fellow, 1989-1991. Sexual selection and disease in the spider Neriene (=Linyphia) litigiosa. Sexual selection and disease research; environmental microbiological training. (16 months). University of Oxford, UK. Department of Zoology, William D. Hamilton sponsor; NERC Institute of Virology and Environmental Microbiology, D.H.L. Bishop and P. Nuttall co-sponsors.

  • NSF Postdoctoral Research Associate, 1988-1989. Research on same topic as NATO fellowship. Funds provided as supplement to research grant of R. Thornhill and D. Ligon, based on an independent proposal by Watson (12 months). University of New Mexico, Biology Department, R. Thornhill and O. Baca advisors.

Keep up to date with my travels and research on Instagram

QUICK LINKS

OFFICE LOCATION

UNM Biology, Castetter Hall 1480
MSC03-2020, 219 Yale Blvd NE
Albuquerque, New Mexico. 87131-0001

CELL PHONE

EMAIL

© 2020 by DR. PAUL J. WATSON