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Dr. Michael R. Maxwell

Dr. Michael R. Maxwell
Department Chair
National University
(858) 642-8413

Dr. Maxwell earned a PhD in Animal Behavior at UC Davis, and a BA in Biology with a specialization in Ecology, Evolution and Behavior at UC San Diego. He conducted postdoctoral research at the Scripps Institution of Oceanography (San Diego, CA), the Marine Biological Laboratory (Woods Hole, MA), and the National Marine Fisheries Service as a National Research Council scholar.


Dr. Maxwell teaches General Biology (BIO 162), Ecology (BIO 330), Evolution (BIO 310), Animal Behavior (BIO 420), and Natural History of California (BIO 450). Dr. Maxwell encourages students to conduct independent research projects with NU faculty, and welcomes inquiries about these projects from students.

As a behavioral ecologist and zoologist, Dr. Maxwell has examined diverse topics and questions in biology. Currently, he investigates the mating behavior and ecology of praying mantises in California. Previous projects include mating behavior and paternity in squid, population dynamics and fishery management of squid, population dynamics of baleen whales, and behavioral studies of primates in the field (olive baboons in Kenya) and in captivity (mandrills and golden monkeys).

Dr. Maxwell's current research examines reproductive physiology and behavior in a California praying mantis (Stagmomantis limbata). In this species, the female may cannibalize the male during or after mating, potentially converting the male's body mass into eggs. Females, however, mate with multiple males in nature, which casts doubt on a cannibalized male's paternity. Dr. Maxwell is investigating the use of genetic markers to determine the fertilization success of cannibalized males. Dr. Maxwell also collaborates with international scientists to examine peculiarities of mating behavior in other arthropods.

Selected publications:

Maxwell, M.R. and C. Frinchaboy. 2014. Consequences of intraspecific variation in female body size in the mantid Stagmomantis limbata (Mantodea: Mantidae): feeding ecology, male attraction, and egg production. Environmental Entomology 43: 91-101.

Prokop, P. and M.R. Maxwell. 2012. Gift carrying in the spider Pisaura mirabilis: nuptial gift contents in nature and effects on male running speed and fighting success. Animal Behaviour 83: 1395-1399.

Prokop, P. and M.R. Maxwell. 2011. Sexual conflict over spermatophore attachment in a nuptially-feeding cricket. Ethology 117: 520-528.

Maxwell, M.R., K.M. Gallego and K.L. Barry. 2010. Effects of female feeding regime in a sexually cannibalistic mantid: fecundity, cannibalism and male response in Stagmomantis limbata (Mantodea). Ecological Entomology 35: 775-787.

Buresch, K.C., M.R. Maxwell, M.R. Cox and R.T. Hanlon. 2009. Temporal dynamics of mating and paternity in the squid Loligo pealeii. Marine Ecology Progress Series 387: 197-203.

Maxwell, M.R., L.D. Jacobson and R.J. Conser. 2005. Eggs-per-recruit model for management of the California market squid (Loligo opalescens) fishery. Canadian Journal of Fisheries and Aquatic Science 62: 1640-1650.

Maxwell, M.R. 1999. Mating behavior. In The praying mantids. F.R. Prete, H. Wells, P.H. Wells and L.E. Hurd (eds.). Johns Hopkins University Press; Baltimore, MD. pp. 69-89.



Ph.D. Animal Behavior
University of California, (Davis), 1995

BA, Biology (Ecology, Evolution, Behavior)
University of California (San Diego), 1989