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Douglas W. Mock

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Douglas W. Mock

George Lynn Cross Research Professor of Biology

Ph.D., University of Minnesota
M.S., University of Minnesota
B.S.., Cornell University
405-325-2751 (Phone)
405-325-6202 (Fax)
SH 301

curriculum vitae


My general interests are evolutionary and ecological aspects of behavior. I am particularly interested in combining direct behavioral observations with experimental testing of evolutionary hypotheses under field conditions. This process can be greatly enriched through the use of simple mathematical models. The topics I have focused on in my own work include: (1) siblicide (fatal sibling aggression and enforced starvation) in egrets and herons; (2) parent-offspring conflict; and (3) sexual conflict in relation to parental care and how that affects the evolutionary stability of monogamy in birds.

My current research involves a series of field-experiments on the evolutionary stability of biparental care in local house sparrows (in collaboration with Trish Schwagmeyer and others). We have manipulated male contributions by attaching small lead fishing weights to their tails and by implanting time-release testosterone under their dorsal skin to see how that affects provision of the young.  We also have lightened the total parental load by providing artificial nutrition directly to the nestlings. Currently, we have shifted our focus to shared incubation duties and are manipulating the female's share in both directions.

Graduate students working with me have typically designed and pursued projects that are unrelated to my own research efforts, tackling a broad variety of field and lab problems, including parental breeding strategies in penguins (Tim Lamey and Colleen St. Clair); (b) brood reduction in skuas (Cammie Lamey); (c) nursing competition in grasshopper mice (Jim Moodie); (d) mixed paternity, badge sizes, and effects of nest parasites in house sparrows (Robin Whitekiller); (e) nursery competition and mating system variation in a Peruvian frog (Lynn Haugen); (f) the signaling properties of mouth coloration in passerine nestlings (Matt Dugas); and (g) parent-offspring recognition methods in cave swallows (Stephanie Strickler).  As I am nearing the point of retirement, I no longer take on new students, but continue to serve of advisory committees.


  • Mock, D.W., M.B. Dugas, and S.A. Strickler. 2011. Honest begging: expanding from Signal of Need.  Behavioral Ecology 22:1-9.  doi:10.1093/beheco/arr091

  • Mock, D.W., P.L. Schwagmeyer. 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.

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • Mock, D.W. 2004.  More than Kin and Less than Kind: The Evolution of Family Strife.  Harvard Univ. Press (Belknap).

  • Mock, D.W. 2004. Siblicide. Pp.965-966 in M. Bekoff (Ed.) Encyclopedia of Animal Behavior, Vol. 3.  Greenwood Press, Westport, CT.

  • Schwagmeyer, P.L., D.W. Mock, and G.A. Parker.  2003. Biparental care in house sparrows: Negotiation or sealed bid?  Behavioral Ecology 13:713-721.

  • Schwagmeyer, P.L. and D.W. Mock. 2003. How consistently are good parents good parents?  Repeatability of parental care in the house sparrow, Passer domesticus.  Ethology 109:303-313.

  • Mock, D.W. and G.A. Parker. 1997. The Evolution of Sibling Rivalry. Oxford University Press.