Patricia L. Schwagmeyer
Professor of Biology

Phone: (405)325-6204
Fax: (405)325-6202

RM/Lab: SH206

Current Research Interests and Subject Areas Available for Graduate Research

Most of my research has focused on sexual selection, mating systems, and parental care. I have been especially interested in how the spatial and temporal availability of potential mates affects evolution of various male traits. For example, in the populations of 13-lined ground squirrels that I used to study, females were spatially scattered yet they bred relatively synchronously. Moreover, female 13-lined ground squirrels tend to mate with more than one male, and the resulting sperm competition features a first-male advantage. This combination of female spatial dispersion, female breeding synchrony, and paternity skewed toward the first mate of females appears to have favored male mobility, spatial memory, the ability of males to distinguish how soon certain females will become sexually receptive, plus an element of male "choosiness" based on the mating history of a prospective mate.
            Some of the collaborative work I've done on a local population of house sparrows also has examined how the characteristics/behavior of one sex affect the behavior of the opposite sex. Male house sparrows vary widely in the amount of parental care they provide, and we have used experimental approaches to determine the sensitivity of female parents to alterations in their mates’ contributions. Most ESS models of this situation have yielded the prediction that if one partner slacks off in the amount it contributes, its mate should never compensate completely for that reduction. Our results showed little evidence that house sparrow females track their partners’ contributions to feeding nestlings and subsequently adjust their own food deliveries in compensation; however, females do compensate when their partner does not provide much help with incubation. We currently are testing whether compensation for partner shortfalls during incubation is unilateral (i.e., whether males display any sensitivity to increases or reductions in the time females spend incubating), and I am also examining other options available to females that find themselves paired to a male that furnishes inadequate levels of care.




Ph.D., University of Michigan

M.S., University of Michigan

A.B., University of Kentucky

Margaret Morse Nice Medal (2007), Wilson Ornithological Society




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Representative publications:

  • Schwagmeyer, P. L., Parker, P.G, Mock, D. W. and Schwabl, H. 2012. Alternative matings and the opportunity costs of paternal care in house sparrows. Behavioral Ecology 23:1108-1114.

  • Mock, D.W., Schwagmeyer, P. L., and Dugas, M. 2009. Parental provisioning and nestling mortality in house sparrows. Animal Behaviour 78:677-684.

  • Schwagmeyer, P.L. and D.W. Mock.  2008.  Parental provisioning and offspring fitness: size matters.  Animal Behaviour 75:291-298.

  • Schwagmeyer, P. L., Bartlett, T. L. and Schwabl, H.G. 2008.  Dynamics of house sparrow biparental care:  What contexts trigger partial compensation? Ethology 114:459-468.

  • Edly-Wright, C., P.L. Schwagmeyer, P.G. Parker, and D.W. Mock. 2007.  Genetic similarity of mates, offspring health and extrapair fertilization in house sparrows.  Animal Behaviour 73:367-378.

  • Kopisch, A., P.L. Schwagmeyer, and D.W. Mock.  2005.  Individual consistency in parental effort across multiple stages of care in the house sparrow, Passer domesticusEthology 111:1062-1070.

  • Bartlett, T.L., D.W. Mock, and P.L. Schwagmeyer.  2005.   Division of labor: Incubation and biparental care in the house sparrow, Passer domesticusAuk 122:835-842.

  • Schwagmeyer, P.L., H.G. Schwabl, and D.W. Mock.  2005.  Dynamics of biparental care in house sparrows: hormonal manipulations of paternal contributions.  Animal Behaviour 69:481-488.

  • Mock, D.W., P.L. Schwagmeyer, and G.A. Parker. 2005.  Male house sparrows deliver more food to experimentally subsidized offspring. Animal Behaviour 70:225-236.






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