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Dr. William E. Cooper

William E. Cooper, Ph.D., has studied many aspects of behavior and ecology of taxonomically and geographically diverse species of lizards for nearly 40 years. His studies have been a mixture of laboratory and field experiments, theoretical modeling and comparative studies. His first major emphasis was lizard social behavior in the 1970s – 1990s. Starting in the 1980s and continuing through the early 2000s, Bill’s focus was 0n chemosensory, including studies of food chemical discrimination, pheromonal communication, and predator recognition. Comparative studies of tongue-flicking behavior established coevolution among, tongue structure, degree of development of the vomeronasal organs, and the degree of reliance on tongue-flicking to identify prey. Perhaps the major finding was the correlated evolution has occurred between foraging mode and prey chemical discrimination. After collecting foraging data for these studies, Bill published a few papers on the nature of lizard foraging modes in the mid-2000s.  Bill began studying antipredatory defenses of lizards in the mid-1980s, but only sporadically. Starting in the late 1980s this subject became Bill’s main topic of field research and theoretical studies and has remained so since then. Bill has studied escape behavior, refuge use, autotomy, pusuit-deterrent signaling, deflective displays and other lizard defenses. Much of this work on escape and refuge use has been summarized recently in synthetic papers and in chapters of book that he co-edited (Escaping from Predators: An Integrative View of Escape Decisions, 2015, Cambridge University Press). Dr. Cooper and colleagues used comparative data on 65 lizard species to establish the existence of island tameness quantitatively. No phylogenetic influence on flight initiation distance was detected in that study. Bill is currently interested in taxa that may exhibit exceptional escape responses. 

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