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Amber Rice, Ph.D.

Amber M. Rice, Ph.D.
Assistant Professor

Dept. of Biological Sciences
111 Research Drive, B217
Office - D216
Lab - C211
Bethlehem, PA 18015

phone: 610-758-5569
fax: 610-758-4004


Amber Rice's citations

Curriculum Vitae

General Research Interests

Ecological character displacement, Hybridization, Local adaptation, Natural and sexual selection, Reproductive character displacement, Speciation

Amber Rice, Ph.D.

By measuring traits and reproductive success in the wild, we seek to understand the influence of particular phenotypes (e.g., morphology, behaviors) on fitness in ecologically relevant settings. Here, the amount of white on the wing of a male collared flycatcher (Ficedula albicollis) is being measured. Photo credit: L. Thunström

Amber Rice, Ph.D.

We study the initiation of speciation in different populations of spadefoot toads (genus Spea). The tadpoles of these species can develop as one of two morph types: an omnivore or a carnivore. Here, a carnivore morph is preying on an omnivore morph. Photo credit: D. Pfennig

Research Overview

The primary goal of my research is to understand the ecological and evolutionary mechanisms underlying the process of speciation, from the early stages to its completion. I focus particularly on the importance of species interactions and selection in driving this process. To do this, I combine ecological field studies with population genetic and genomic studies in several species.

More specifically, my lab seeks to understand:

  1. how ecological and reproductive character displacement can initiate speciation and lead to reproductive isolation.
  2. the genomic and ecological consequences of hybridization.
  3. how speciation proceeds in spite of gene exchange between diverging populations or species.


Adobe Reader requiredAbbott, R., Alback, D., Ansell, S., Arntzen, J. W., Baird, S. J. E., Bierne, N. et al. 2013. Hybridization and speciation. Journal of Evolutionary Biology 26: 229-246.

Adobe Reader requiredVallin, N., Rice, A. M., Arntsen, H., Kulma, K., Qvarnström, A. 2012. Combined effects of interspecific competition and hybridization impede local coexistence of Ficedula flycatchers. Evolutionary Ecology 26: 927-942.

Adobe Reader requiredVallin, N., Rice, A. M., Bailey, R. I., Husby, A., Qvarnström, A. 2012. Positive feedback between ecological and reproductive character displacement in a young avian hybrid zone. Evolution 66: 1167-1169.

Adobe Reader requiredRice, A. M., Rudh, A., Ellegren, H., and Qvarnström, A. 2011. A guide to the genomics of ecological speciation in natural animal populations. Ecology Letters 14: 9-18.

Adobe Reader requiredQvarnström, A., Rice, A. M., and Ellegren, H. 2010. Speciation in Ficedula flycatchers. Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society of London, Series B 365: 1841-1852.

Adobe Reader requiredRice, A. M. and Pfennig, D. W. 2010. Does character displacement initiate speciation? Evidence of reduced gene flow between populations experiencing divergent selection. Journal of Evolutionary Biology 23: 854-865.

Adobe Reader requiredRice, A. M., Leichty, A. R., and Pfennig, D. W. 2009. Parallel evolution and ecological selection: Replicated character displacement in spadefoot toads. Proceedings of the Royal Society of London, Series B 276: 4189-4196.

Adobe Reader requiredRice, A. M., Pearse, D. E., Becker, T., Newman, R. A., Lebonville, C., Harper, G. R., and Pfennig, K. S. 2008. Development and characterization of nine polymorphic microsatellite markers for Mexican spadefoot toads (Spea multiplicata) with cross amplification in Plains spadefoot toads (S. bombifrons). Molecular Ecology Resources 8: 1386-1389.

Adobe Reader requiredRice, A. M. and Pfennig, D. W. 2008. An analysis of range expansion in two species undergoing character displacement: Why might invaders generally “win” during character displacement? Journal of Evolutionary Biology 21: 696-704.

Adobe Reader requiredPfennig, D. W. and Rice, A. M. 2007. An experimental test of character displacement’s role in promoting postmating isolation between conspecific populations in contrasting competitive environments. Evolution 61: 2433-2443.

Adobe Reader requiredPfennig, D. W., Rice, A. M., and Martin, R. A. 2007. Field and experimental evidence for competition’s role in phenotypic divergence. Evolution 61: 257-271.

Adobe Reader requiredRice, A. M. and Pfennig, D. W. 2007. Character displacement: in situ evolution of novel phenotypes or sorting of pre-existing variation? Journal of Evolutionary Biology 20: 448-459.

Adobe Reader requiredPfennig, D. W., Rice, A. M., and Martin, R. A. 2006. Ecological opportunity and phenotypic plasticity interact to promote character displacement and species coexistence. Ecology 87: 769-779.

Adobe Reader requiredMarko, P. B., Lee, S. C., Rice, A. M., Gramling, J. M., Fitzhenry, T. M., McAlister, J. S., Harper, G. R., and Moran, A. L. 2004. Mislabelling of a depleted reef fish. Nature 430: 309-310.

Adobe Reader requiredConner, J. K., Rice, A. M., Stewart, C., Morgan, M. T. 2003. Patterns and mechanisms of selection on a family-diagnostic trait: evidence from experimental manipulation and lifetime fitness gradients. Evolution 57: 480-486.

Amber Rice, Ph.D.


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