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F. Stephen Dobson

F. Stephen Dobson
Behavioral, historical, and population ecology ; population genetics ; mammalogy ; seabird behavior and ecology.



Senior Professor, Auburn University USA
University of Strasbourg Institute for Advanced Studies Fellow


Professor F. Stephen Dobson is an evolutionary biologist with a broad understanding of ecology and genetics at the population level. He has a long career of studying the evolutionary biology of behaviours, particularly social behaviours. He has published over 140 peer-reviewed research articles, and served on the editorial boards of Animal Behaviour, Ecology, and Ecological Monographs (currently the longest-serving subject editor for the Ecological Society of America). Stephen Dobson was awarded the title of Chevalier of Academic Palms in 2002, when he was an invited Professor at the Paris 13 University. He received a Fulbright Fellowship from the U.S. Department of State in 2004 for a visit to India to study social behaviour and dispersal in bonnet macaques.

His work in France has included ethological studies of mice (at the Paris 13 University), research on sexual selection of king penguins in the Southern Antarctic Territories of France (from CNRS Montpellier, as a Director of Research) and, most recently, on ageing and stress in ground-dwelling squirrels in Canada (with the University of Strasbourg). He uses model animal systems to study basic properties of social behaviour, kin selection, sexual selection, and evolutionary responses to climate change. His USIAS Fellowship will investigate the integrative evolutionary biology of ageing and stress, from the molecular to population levels


1984 PhD University of Michigan, Ann Arbor
1978 MSc University of California, Santa Barbara
1975 BASc University of California, Berkley

  Academic appointements

1999-present Professor Department of Biological Sciences, Auburn University
2007-14 Dir. Research CEFE – UMR 5175, Montpellier CNRS
1994-99 Assoc. Prof. Department of Zool. & Wildlife Science, Auburn University
1988-94 Assistant Prof. Department of Zool. & Wildlife Science, Auburn University
1988 Adjunct Lecturer Department of Biology, University of Michigan
1987-88 Visiting Assistant Curator Museum of Zoology, University of Michigan
1986 Postdoctoral Fellow Department of Biological Sciences, University of Lethbridge
1984-85 NATO Postdoc. Fellow Department of Zoology, University of Alberta

  Awards and honors

  • Chevalier in the Order of Academic Palms, France : awarded 2002
  • Creative Research and Scholarship Award, Office of the Vice President for Research, Auburn University : 2014
  • Dean’s Research Award, College of Sciences and Mathematics, Auburn University : 2008
  • Fulbright Research Scholar, India Program : 2004-2005
  • Poste Rouge Scholar, Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique, Montpellier and Paris, France : 1997, 2006-7
  • Professeur Invité, Laboratoire d’Éthologie Expérimentale et Comparée, Université Paris-Nord, France : 1995, 2000, 2001, 2002, 2004, 2007
  • Research Fellow, Oak Ridge Institute for Science and Education : 1995
  • Visiting Research Associate, Department of Biological Sciences, Arizona State University : 1994-1995
  • (sabbatical) NATO Postdoctoral Fellow, Canada : 1984-1985

  Editorial boards

  • Ecology/Ecological Monographs, Ecological Society of America, 2002-2018.
  • Animal Behaviour, Animal Behavior Society, 2009-2012

  Selected works


Jouventin, P., and F.S. Dobson. 2018. Why Penguins Communicate : the Evolution of Visual and Vocal Signals. Academic Press, Cambridge, Massachusetts. 315 pp.


  • Dobson, F.S., P.H. Becker, C.M. Arnaud, S. Bouwhuis, and A. Charmantier. 2017. Plasticity results in delayed breeding in a long-distance migrant seabird. Ecology and Evolution 7:3100-3109.
  • Dobson, F.S., J.E. Lane, M. Low, and J.O. Murie. 2016. Fitness implications of seasonal climate variation in Columbian ground squirrels. Ecology and Evolution 6:5614-5622.
  • Viblanc, V.A., C. Saraux, J.O. Murie, and F.S. Dobson. 2016. Kin effects on energy allocation in group-living ground squirrels. Journal of Animal Ecology 85:1361-1369.
    Dobson, F.S., V.A. Viblanc, C.M. 
  • Arnaud, and J.O. Murie. 2012. Kin selection in Columbian ground squirrels : direct and indirect fitness benefits. Molecular Ecology 21:524-531.
  • Lane, J.E., L.E.B. Kruuk, A. Charmantier, J.O. Murie, and F.S. Dobson. 2012. Delayed phenology and reduced fitness associated with climate change in a wild mammal. Nature 489:554-557.
  • Dobson, F.S., B.M. Way, and C. Baudoin. 2010. Spatial dynamics and the evolution of social monogamy in mammals. Behavioral Ecology 21:747-752.
    Dobson, F.S. 2007. A lifestyle view of life-history evolution. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences USA 104:17565-17566.
  • Dobson, F.S., and P. Jouventin. 2007. How slow breeding can be selected in seabirds : testing Lack’s hypothesis. Proceedings of the Royal Society of London, Series B 274:275-279.
  • Dobson, F.S., and M.K. Oli. 2001. The demographic basis of population regulation in Columbian ground squirrels. American Naturalist 158:236-247.
  • Dobson, F.S., R.K. Chesser, J.L. Hoogland, D.W. Sugg, and D.L. Foltz. 1997. Do black-tailed prairie dogs minimize inbreeding ? Evolution 51:970-978.
  • Dobson, F.S., and G.R. Michener. 1995. Maternal traits and reproduction in Richardson’s ground squirrels. Ecology 76:851-862.
  • Dobson, F.S. 1992. Body mass, structural size, and life history patterns of the Columbian ground squirrel. American Naturalist 140:109-125.
  • Dobson, F.S., and J.O. Murie. 1987. Interpretation of intraspecific life history patterns : evidence from Columbian ground squirrels. American Naturalist 129:382-397.
  • Dobson, F.S. 1982. Competition for mates and predominant juvenile male dispersal in mammals. Animal Behaviour 30:1183-1192.

  Work Address

CNRS - University of Strasbourg,
Institut Pluridisciplinaire Hubert Curien
Département Ecologie, Physiologie & Ethologie
23 rue Becquerel
67087 Strasbourg Cedex 2 France

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