As an evolutionary biologist and a scholar committed to the scientific method, I strongly reject the ideas of Intelligent Design, Irreducible Complexity, and any other form of creationism as scientific explanations for the origin and adaptations of biological systems. My views are completely consistent with all but one of my colleagues in this department and with the overwhelming majority of biologists…everywhere.
Murray Itzkowitz, Ph.D.
Professor and Chair · Dept. of Biological Sciences
610-758-3680 · E-mail
Currently, my research focuses on several projects that explore different theoretical issues. My primary research area consists largely of laboratory studies on the monogamous convict cichlid fish (Archocentrus nigrofasciatus) and field studies on several species of pupfish (Cyprinodon) and beaugregory damselfish (Stegastes leucostictus).
Students in my lab are involved in a variety of projects using the convict cichlid and these include fight tactics, mate choice, pair formation, and the functions of courtship. I continue to emphasize the parental division of roles. I am particularly interested in the causation of sex-typical parental roles (e.g., females remain with the offspring while males defend the territory), especially when both parents are both able to perform the same roles. I am also examining the initiation and the resolution of role disagreements.
I have begun a long term project on the mating strategies of Texas pupfish (Cyprinodon elegans and C. bovinus). Thus far we have uncovered three male mating tactics and we are in the process of linking the appearance of these tactics to their costs and benefits. We are also examining female pupfish behavior. Females of these species seem to mate randomly and promiscuously, although we have evidence that females of some species do possess an inherent mate preference. We are now attempting to describe this promiscuity, determine the possible benefits derived from it, and relate it to the multiple male tactics.
My research program on the coral reef beaugregory damselfish (Stegastes leucostictus) has focused on the effects of breeding site quality on both courtship and defense decisions. I have recently restarted my research at the Discovery Bay Marine laboratory where I am examining how males deal with mistakes in predicting their future reproductive success.
Some recent publications
Gagliardi-Seeley, J., Leese, J., Santangelo, N. & Itzkowitz, M. 2009. Female Convict Cichlids (Archocentrus nigrofasciatum) based their mate choice on both malesize and fighting ability. Journal of Ethology. 27:249-254
Snekser, J. & Itzkowitz, M. 2009.Sex differences in offspring retrieval behavior in the convict cichlid. Ethology. 115: 457–464.
Leese, J, Wilson, H., Ganim, A., & Itzkowitz, M. 2010. Effects of reversed size-assortative mating on spawning success in the monogamous convict cichlid, Amatitlania nigrofasciatus. Ethology, Ecology, & Evolution. 22: 95–100.
Snekser, J., Santangelo, N., Nyby, J. & Itzkowitz. M. 2011. Sex differences in biparental care as offspring develop: a field study of convict cichlids (Amatitlania siquia). Environmental Biology of Fishes. 91: 15-25.
VanBreukelen, N. A. & Itzkowitz, M. 2011. Mate removal leads to increase parental defence in free-ranging convict cichlids. Animal Behaviour. 82: 1023-1026.
Gumm, J., Snekser, J. & Itzkowitz, M. 2008. Conservation and conflict between endangered desert fishes. Biology Letters Royal Society 4:655-658.
Gumm, J., Snekser, J., Leese, J. M., Little, K.,Leese, J.,Imhoff, V.E.,Westrick, B. & Itzkowitz, M. 2011. Management of interactions between endangered species using habitat restoration. Biological Conservation. 144:2171-2176
Snekser, J., Leese, J., Gamin, A., & Itzkowitz, M. 2009. Aggression and courtship on different quality territories: Correlated behaviors, but not a syndrome. Behavioral Ecology. 209:124-130.
Leese, J., Snekser, J., Ganim, A. & Itzkowitz, M.2009. Assessment and decision making in a Caribbean damselfish: nest site quality influences prioritization of courtship and brood defense. Biology Letters Royal Society. 5:188-190.
Leese, J., Snekser, J. & Itzkowitz, M. 2010. Interactions of natural and sexual selection: damselfish prioritize brood defense with male-male competition or courtship. Behaviour. 147:37 – 52.
Gumm, J.,van Breukelen, N. A., Draud, M & Itzkowitz, M. 2010. Interactions between inter- and Intrasexual selection in the beaugregory damselfish Stegastes leucostictus). Ethology Ecology and Evolution. 22:133-142.
Leiser, J., Little, K., & Itzkowitz, M. 2010. Mate sampling in a natural population of Pecos gambusia, Gambusia nobilis. Western North American Naturalist. 70:283-289
Desert flowers for your amusement