Dr. Michael Maxwell

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, Invertebrate Zoology (BIO 414), Ecology (BIO 330), 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.


  • Maxwell, M.R. And P. Prokop. (2018). Fitness effects of nuptial gifts in the spider Pisaura mirabilis: examination under an alternative feeding regime. Journal of Arachnology, 43: 404-412.
  • Nyffeler, M., M.R. Maxwell And J.V. Remsen. (2017). Bird predation by praying mantises: a global perspective. Wilson Journal of Ornithology, 129: 331-344.
  • Prokop, P. And M.R. Maxwell. (2016). Female predatory response to conspecific males and heterospecific prey in the praying mantis Mantis religiosa: evidence for discrimination of conspecific males. Journal of Ethology, 34: 139-146.
  • 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.
  • Maxwell, M. R.. (2014). A synoptic review of the genus Stagmomantis (Mantodea: Mantidae). Zootaxa, 3765: 501-525.
  • Maxwell, M. R.. (2014). Developmental patterns in Stagmomantis limbata (Mantodea: Mantidae): variation in instar number, growth, and body size. Journal of Orthoptera Research, 23(1): 49-59.
  • 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.
  • Watanabe, E., T. Adachi-Hagimori, K. Miura, M.R. Maxwell, Y. Ando And Y. Takamatsu. (2011). Multiple paternity within field-collected egg cases of the praying mantid Tenodera aridifolia. Annals of the Entomological Society of America, 104: 348-352.
  • Maxwell, M. R.. (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.
  • Maxwell, M.R., K.L. Barry And P.M. Johns. (2010). Examinations of female pheromone use in two praying mantids, Stagmomantis limbata and Tenodera aridifolia sinensis (Mantodea: Mantidae). Annals of the Entomological Society of America, 103: 120-127.


  • Maxwell, M. (2017). Cephalic horns in Mantodea: diversity and possible function. Lecture presented at the International Workshop on Neotropical Praying Mantises, Manaus, Brazil.
  • Maxwell, M. (2016). Dangerous decisions: male choice and sexual cannibalism in praying mantises. Lecture presented at the University of Texas, Rio Grande Valley (Dept. Biology), Edinburg, TX.
  • Maxwell, M. (2014). Test of the sexual partner misidentification hypothesis in the praying mantis (Mantis religiosa). Lecture presented at the Zoológia 2014 Conference, University of Presov, Slovakia.
  • Maxwell, M. (2014). Intraspecific and interspecific length variation in mantids: consequences for prey size and predatory strike rates. Lecture presented at the 10th European Congress of Entomology (Part of Symposium: "Diversity of form and function within the Mantodea (praying mantises).", University of York, UK..
Dr. Michael Maxwell

Contact Information

Dr. Michael Maxwell

College: School of Arts, Letters, and Sciences

Department: Mathematics and Natural Sciences

Academic Program Director: Bachelor of Science Major in Biology
[email protected]

(858) 642-8413

Torrey Pines South Campus


UC Davis - PHD - Animal Behavior