Brian Spitzer

Assoc Professor, Biology

Degrees: Ph.D. in Population Biology from the University of California, Davis, 2003; B.A. in Biology from Williams College, 1996

Office: Biology, Hedco Hall

Office Hours: Tuesdays, 1:30-2:30; Wednesdays, 9:30-10:30; or by appointment

Phone: 909/748-8667



Research and Areas of Expertise

My research involves using insects as model organisms to understand topics in ecology and evolutionary biology. Current research projects include an investigation of the genetic structure of populations of the mayfly Baetis tricaudatus in the San Bernardino Mountains, and a study of the effects of recent tree mortality caused by bark beetles on ant communities in the San Bernardino National Forest. My areas of expertise include ecology, evolutionary biology, and tropical biology, as well as zoology (with an emphasis on invertebrates).

Professional Background

I became interested in ecology while tromping around the Berkshire Mountains as a student at Williams College, and fell in love with tropical biology while interning for a research project in Costa Rica in 1996 and 1997. My Ph.D. dissertation at UC Davis involved significant field work in the rain forest of Costa Rica. I'm especially interested in field science, and in using insects as study organisms to illuminate important concepts in ecology and evolutionary biology.

Courses Offered at Redlands

BIOL 133 (Principles of Biology), BIOL 260 (Entomology), BIOL 339 (Zoology), BIOL 460 (Research Topics in Biology), and BIOL 107/260 (a May term Tropical Biology travel course)

Previous Teaching Experience

  • Visiting Assistant Professor, Gustavus Adolphus College, fall 2005-spring 2007.
  • Visiting Assistant Professor, Williams College, spring 2005.
  • Lecturer, University of California, Davis, summer 2003 and fall 2004.
  • Guest Lecturer, American River College, fall 2004.

Awards, Honors and Grants

  • Conant-Harrington Prize for Excellence in Biology: Williams College (1996).
  • Phi Beta Kappa (elected 1996).
  • Sigma Xi (elected 1996).
  • National Science Foundation Graduate Fellowship (1997-1998)
  • Organization for Tropical Studies Research Grant (2000-2001)


Spitzer, B.W., and R. Haygood. 2007. Migration load and the coexistence of ecologically similar sexuals and asexuals. American Naturalist 170(4): 567-572.

Spitzer, B.W. 2006. Local maladaptation in the soft scale insect Saissetia coffeae (Hemiptera: Coccidae). Evolution 60 (9): 1859-1867.

Spitzer, B.W. 2004. Maternal effects in the soft scale insect Saissetia coffeae (Hemiptera: Coccidae). Evolution 58 (11): 2452-2461.

Agrawal, A.A.; Rudgers, J.A.; Botsford, L.W.; Cutler, D.; Gorin, J.B.; Lundquist, C.J.; Spitzer, B.W.; Swann, A.L.. 2000. Benefits and constraints on plant defense against herbivores: Spines influence the legitimate and illegitimate flower visitors of yellow star thistle, Centaurea solstitialis L. (Asteraceae) Southwestern Naturalist 45 (1): 1-5

Redands' Biology Department

The impact of the recent bark beetle outbreak on the San Bernardino National Forest is a topic of current concern, because the forest ecosystem has been dramatically altered. Insects in general play important roles in the lives of humans in Southern California, including the invasive Argentine ant, the pests that vector plant diseases such as Pierce's disease, and the honeybees that play a vital economic role as pollinators of crop plants. I am fascinated by animals of all kinds. The Biology department at the University of Redlands engages students as individuals to help them develop the knowledge base and skill sets that they need to excel in the workforce and in graduate or professional schools.


The Sustainable University of Redlands Farm (SURF) is a natural farm in its beginning stages, but already grows and sells fresh vegetables to Bon Appetit, the food management company on campus.

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