Dr. Steve Norton
New Science Center, 318e
360-736-9391, ext. 261
|Ph.D., University of California, Santa Barbara
M.A., University of California, Santa Barbara
B.A., Harvard University
My research explores the interrelationships between form, function, and ecology. Specifically, I am interested in the factors that underpin the outcome of predator-prey encounters between fishes and their prey, especially the interplay between predator attack strategies and prey defenses.
My research incorporates careful field observations and collection (e.g., habitat utilization, predator diet, prey availability), behavioral experiments in the laboratory (e.g., predatory strategies, anti-predator behaviors), physiological monitoring (e.g., patterns of muscle activity and subambient pressure generation during the strike, thermal acclimation in enzyme activity), comparative morphology (SEM, biomechanics) and molecular approaches to studying character evolution (e.g., evolution of snail punching) most recently. PDF files for most of my publications can be found here.
I am continuing to work on two projects: snail-punching by cottid fishes and chemical defense by gammarid amphipods against fish predators. In the first, I have been investigating ontogenetic and interspecific differences among cottid fishes in diet and prey processing. I have also been unraveling the evolution of snail-punching in cottid fishes. In the second project, my collaborators and I have been exploring a unique example of chemical defense in crustaceans, specifically several species of gammarid amphipods. As in terrestrial insect, these species incorporate chemical defense, aggregation, and aposematic coloration to reduce predation.
In addition to these projects, I have identified several research directions that are very amenable to independent research projects for motivated undergraduates. These include both field-based and lab-based projects on fish ecology, physiology, and functional morphology.