Department of Zoology

Nancy G. Solomon
Ph.D. University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, 1991
animal behavior; behavioral ecology

170 PSN

153J PSN


Office Hours:
  Monday . . . .
  Tuesday . . . .
  Wednesday . .
  Thursday. . . .
  Friday. . . . . . All by appt.

Biographical Information:

Nancy Solomon is a behavioral ecologist whose research interests focus on the ecology, reproduction and behavior of small mammals. She is particularly interested in sociality and mating patterns. She has also studied cooperative breeding (a social system where individuals other than the genetic parents help care for offspring), using social voles as her study organisms. She is one of the editors of the only book on cooperative breeding in mammals (1997) and she has co-organized a symposium on social biology of rodents at an international meeting (see papers in Journal of Mammalogy November 2003).

One aspect of her recent research has focused on group composition, dispersal, reproduction and parental behavior in three species of rodents, employing a combination of laboratory and field studies. One current research focus is on social effects on dispersal and reproduction in rodents with different social systems (funded by National Institute of Health). This includes experiments to test hypotheses about mechanisms of reproductive suppression in females. In addition, using field experiments at Miami University's Ecology Research Center, she and her students have examined the influence of environmental characteristics such as food resource quality, vegetative cover, or population density on the degree of dispersal and group formation in these rodents. Another major focus of her research is on factors that influence mating patterns in small mammals. Ongoing studies also include a comparative study using populations of prairie voles from multiple locations that differ in various ecological factors such as vegetation, rainfall, and predator community to investigate the effects of ecological variables on social organization and mating patterns. More recent studies include field and laboratory studies designed to examine the affect of genes and environmental factors (e.g., population density) on complex social behavior. Dr. Solomon and her students are also using molecular techniques, such as the polymerase chain reaction (PCR), to determine paternity of offspring and relatedness among group members.

Courses Taught:

  1. Biological Concepts (BMZ 115)
  2. Mammalogy (ZOO 410/510)
  3. Animal Behavior (ZOO 465/565)
  4. Animal Behavior for Teachers (ZOO 699)
  5. Animal Behavior Seminar (ZOO 710)

Recent Publications:

  1. Solomon, N. G. and Hayes, L. D. In press, 2009. Biological aspects of alloparenting. In: Substitute Parents: Alloparenting in Human Societies (Ed. by G. Bentley & R. Mace). Berghahn Books, Oxford, U.K.

  2. Solomon, N. G and Crist, T. O. 2008. Estimates of reproductive success for group living prairie voles (Microtus ochrogaster). Animal Behaviour 76, 881-892.

  3. Lucia, K., Keane, B., Hayes, L. D., Lin, Y. K., Schaefer, R. L. & Solomon, N. G. 2008. Philopatry in prairie voles: An evaluation of the habitat saturation hypothesis. Behavioral Ecology 19, 774-783.

  4. Solomon, N. G. & Keane, B. 2007. Reproductive strategies in female rodents. In: Rodent Societies (Ed. By J. O. Wolff & P. W. Sherman), pp. 42-56. University of Chicago Press, Chicago.

  5. Solomon, N. G., Steward, L. & Ulrich, K. 2006. Asymmetry in age suppresses reproduction in female woodland voles, Microtus pinetorum. Animal Behaviour 72, 909-915.