Erica Lynn Westerman

Erica Lynn Westerman

Assistant Professor

J. William Fulbright College of Arts & Sciences

(BISC)-Biological Sciences

Phone: 479-575-5348

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Research in the Westerman Lab centers around understanding how organisms perceive and interact with their environment, and how variation in these orgamism-environment interactions facilitates diversity. Our work integrates whole organism behavioral research with genomics, development, and neurobiology in our study of the mechanisms driving behavioral and morphological diversity. 

Using Lepidoptera as our model organisms, we study the mechanisms underlying mate preference learning, the evolution and development of sensory biases, and phenotypic plasticity.

Additional areas of research in the lab include long-term studies of the effect of climate change on reproduction and community composition.

  • Animal Behavior (Spring)
  • Principles of Zoology (Fall)

Yale University, Ecology & Evolutionary Biology. New Haven, CT          Ph.D. 2012

University of New Hampshire, Zoology. Durham, NH                            M.Sc. 2007

Yale University, Ecology & Evolutionary Biology. New Haven, CT          B.S. Intensive 2003


Westerman, E.L., Monteiro, A. (2016) Rearing temperature influences adult response to changes in mating status. PLoS ONE Doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0146546

Westerman, E.L., Chirathivat, N+., Schyling, E+., Monteiro, A. (2014) Mate preference for a phenotypically plastic trait is learned, and may facilitate preference-phenotype matching. Evolution 68(6) 1661-1670 Doi: 10.1111/evo.1238

Westerman, E.L., Drucker, C.B+, Monteiro, A. (2014) Male and female mating behavior is dependent on social context in the butterfly Bicyclus anynana. Journal of Insect Behavior 27(4) 478-495 Doi: 10.1007/s10905-014-9441-9

Westerman, E.L. Monteiro A (2013) Odour influences whether females learn to prefer or avoid wing patterns of male butterflies. Animal Behaviour 86: 1139-1145. Doi:10.1016/j.anbehav.2013.09.002

Westerman, E.L., Hodgins-Davis, A., Dinwiddie, A., Monteiro, A. (2012) Biased learning affects mate choice in a butterfly. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 109(27) 10948-10953. Doi: 10.1073/pnas.1118378109

Buss, L.W., Anderson, C., Westerman, E.L., Kritzberger, C+., Poudyal, M., Moreno, M., Lakkis, F. (2012) Allorecognition triggers autophagy and subsequent necrosis in the cnidarian Hydractinia symbiolongicarpus. PLoS ONE 7(11): e48914. Doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0048914

Dijkstra, J., Westerman, E., Harris, L.G. (2011) The effects of climate change on species composition, succession and phenology: A case study. Global Change Biology 17: 2360-2369. Doi: 10.1111/j.1365-2486.2010.02371.x

Bear, A., Simons, A+., Westerman, E., Monteiro, A. (2010) The genetic, morphological, and physiological characterization of a dark larval cuticle mutation in the butterfly, Bicyclus anynana. PLoS ONE 5(7): e11563. Doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0011563

Smits A+., Cooley J.R., Westerman E. (2010) Twig to root: Egg-nest density and underground nymph distribution in a periodical cicada (Hemiptera: Magicacada septendecim (L.)). Entomologica Americanan 116:73-77. Doi: 10.1664/09-RA-004R.1

Westerman, E., Dijkstra, J., Harris, L.G. (2009) High natural fusion rates in a botryllid ascidian. Marine Biology 156(12): 2613-2619. Doi: 10.1007/s00227-009-1287-x

Westerman, E. Whitlatch, R., Dijkstra, J., and Harris, L.G. (2009) Variation in brooding period masks similarities in response to changing temperatures. Marine Ecology Progress Series 391:13-19. Doi: 10.3354/meps08107

Dijkstra, J., Dutton, A+., Westerman, E., Harris, L.G. (2008) Heart rate reflects osmotic stress levels in the two introduced colonial ascidians Botryllus schlosseri and Botrylloides violaceus. Marine Biology 154(5): 805-811. Doi: 10.1007/s00227-008-0973-4

Dijkstra, J., Harris, L.G., Westerman, E. (2007) Distribution and ecology of four colonial ascidians: Botryllus schlosseri, Botrylloides violaceus, Diplosoma listerianum and Didemnum sp. in the Gulf of Maine. Journal of Experimental Marine Biology and Ecology 342: 61-68. Doi: 10.1016/j.jembe.2006.10.015

+=undergraduate coauthor

Chicago Biomedical Consortium Postdoctoral Research Grant   2014-2015

Doctoral Dissertation Improvement Grant, NSF                           2011-2013

National Estuarine Research Reserve Fellowship, NOAA           2006-2008

Clench Award, Lepidopterists' Society                                          2011