Professor and Chair, Biology and William L. McCormick Professor of Natural Sciences
Stacey Weiss has scholarly interests in behavioral and microbial ecology. She studies the function and regulation of animal communication signals, reproductive behavior, and the host microbiome, especially in lizards. Her work on the communication signals of female striped plateau lizards in Arizona, exploring links between female coloration and health of offspring (Journal of Animal Ecology, 2011), attracted stories in Smithsonian, Natural History, U.S. News & World Report, and other international media.
In her work, Weiss asks whether a given animal behavior or signal provides honest information about the “sender” to potential “receivers” (e.g. mates, predators), how its production affects the behavior of receivers, and how it benefits the sender. More recent work in the Weiss Lab examines the egg-protective function of maternal microbes that are passed from mom to eggshell during egg-laying. These microbes protect the egg from fungal infection, resulting in increased hatch success and offspring quality. Weiss and her students have also looked at female chemical signals, the response of lizard populations to forest fire, and other topics, including the effect of behavioral enrichment on captive zoo animals. All of this work is placed in the context of natural and/or sexual selection theory. They have published in peer-reviewed journals, including Animal Microbiome, Journal of Animal Ecology, Behavioral Ecology, Journal of Experimental Biology, and Comparative Biochemistry and Physiology, among others. She teaches courses such as Ecology, Animal Behavior, Animal Communication, Biological Research, and the Evolution and Biology of Sex.