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About Theresa Spradling

My research interests lie broadly in the area of evolution, including both organismal and molecular evolution. My research has focused on the systematics of a variety of rodents, as assessed using genetic techniques. In pocket gophers, I use genetic techniques to study evolutionary relationships, which can be compared to the evolutionary relationships of their parasites. In each case, I am interested in the interplay between organismal and molecular evolution.

Population-level processes may play a role in the degree of cospeciation that will occur between hosts and their parasites (Demastes, Spradling, and Hafner, 2003). Also, some of my past research has indicated that population-level parameters and life history traits of organisms can contribute to rates of molecular evolution (Spradling, Hafner, and Demastes, 2001; Hafner et al., 1994). Therefore, I have become interested in what goes on at the population level in a variety of species. Accordingly, I have mentored Jon Eastman (M.S.), who investigated population genetics of blue-spotted salamanders, and Scott Whitmore (M.S.), who investigated the population genetics of the central newt in Iowa.

My interests in host-parasite cospeciation and in population genetics have led me to study the population genetics of chewing lice in an effort to understand how population level parameters impact cospeciation of these parasites and their hosts. Sheree Harper (M.S.) has worked with me on one aspect of this system, comparing genetics of louse populations separated by 23 years of time (Harper et al. 2015).  Now Jim Demastes and I are working with a great group of current students on a National Science Foundation funded project aimed at understanding the genetics of chewing louse populations that are in the process of expanding their range and invading a new host type.


Present Professor, Biology, University of Northern Iowa Department of Biology


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  • Genetics
  • Evolution
  • Advanced Systematics
  • Evolution

Contact Information

University of Northern Iowa
McCollum Science Hall 10
Cedar Falls, IA 50614-0421

Office: MSH 10
Phone: (319) 273-2103


Articles (22)

Contributions to Books (3)