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Mark Westneat

TitleProfessor
InstitutionUniversity of Chicago
DepartmentOrg.Bio./Anatomy
AddressChicago IL 60637
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    Collapse Overview 
    Collapse overview
    There are three primary questions around which I build my research program: What is the tree of life? How do animals work? How is structural and functional diversity generated and maintained? In order to play a part in these fields of inquiry, the central goals of much of the research in my laboratory are

    (1) to resolve the phylogenetic relationships of major coral reef fish groups,

    (2) to investigate basic biomechanics and functional morphology in organisms, and

    (3) to integrate phylogeny with biomechanics to understand the evolution of function in diverse groups of organisms.

    This research focuses primarily on phylogenetic systematics and the study of function in an attempt to generate an integrative approach to evolution. We try to use a range of techniques and approaches to these questions, from the resolution of phylogenetic relationships among fishes using molecular phylogenetics, to computer modeling and detailed biomechanics of muscle-tendon-bone systems (e.g. feeding mechanics) in fishes, to field studies of ecological traits of animals (habitat, feeding biology), to the internal function of small animals using a novel method in high-energy physics called synchrotron imaging. Ideas and techniques are employed from the fields of comparative and functional morphology, phylogenetic systematics, mechanical engineering, muscle physiology, morphometrics, and field ecology. By integrating data from different aspects of the biology of a group of organisms, I hope to reveal a broader picture of the complex evolutionary history of a diverse taxonomic group or an interesting functional system than could be generated from any single discipline alone.

    Students are welcome in the laboratory, and have worked on a much wider range of questions and organisms (fossils, birds, insects, lizards, snakes, and more!). Most students working in the lab have a general interest in evolution, biomechanics, phylogenetics, fishes, coral reefs, and/or field work.

    Check out the pages on my Field Museum web site to see more detail on the projects going on in the Westneat Lab!


    Collapse Biography 
    Collapse education and training
    College of Wooster, Wooster, OHB.A.06/1984Biology
    Duke University, Durham, NCPh.D.06/1990Zoology
    Duke University, Durham, NCPostdoctoral10/1991Neurobiology

    Collapse ORNG Applications 
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    Collapse Bibliographic 
    Collapse selected publications
    Publications listed below are automatically derived from MEDLINE/PubMed and other sources, which might result in incorrect or missing publications. Faculty can login to make corrections and additions.
    List All   |   Timeline
    1. Aiello BR, Olsen AM, Mathis CE, Westneat MW, Hale ME. Pectoral fin kinematics and motor patterns are shaped by fin ray mechanosensation during steady swimming in Scarus quoyi. J Exp Biol. 2019 Dec 20. PMID: 31862848.
      View in: PubMed
    2. Evans KM, Williams KL, Westneat MW. Do Coral Reefs Promote Morphological Diversification? Exploration of Habitat Effects on Labrid Pharyngeal Jaw Evolution in the Era of Big Data. Integr Comp Biol. 2019 09 01; 59(3):696-704. PMID: 31199432.
      View in: PubMed
    3. Lemberg JB, Shubin NH, Westneat MW. Feeding kinematics and morphology of the alligator gar (Atractosteus spatula, Lacépède, 1803). J Morphol. 2019 Oct; 280(10):1548-1570. PMID: 31385619.
      View in: PubMed
    4. George AB, Westneat MW. Functional morphology of endurance swimming performance and gait transition strategies in balistoid fishes. J Exp Biol. 2019 Apr 24; 222(Pt 8). PMID: 30962280.
      View in: PubMed
    5. Weller HI, Westneat MW. Quantitative color profiling of digital images with earth mover's distance using the R package colordistance. PeerJ. 2019; 7:e6398. PMID: 30775177.
      View in: PubMed
    6. Tatom-Naecker TM, Westneat MW. Burrowing fishes: Kinematics, morphology and phylogeny of sand-diving wrasses (Labridae). J Fish Biol. 2018 Nov; 93(5):860-873. PMID: 30175499.
      View in: PubMed
    7. Aiello BR, Hardy AR, Westneat MW, Hale ME. Fins as Mechanosensors for Movement and Touch-Related Behaviors. Integr Comp Biol. 2018 11 01; 58(5):844-859. PMID: 29917043.
      View in: PubMed
    8. Aiello BR, Hardy AR, Cherian C, Olsen AM, Orsbon CP, Hale ME, Westneat MW. A comparison of pectoral fin ray morphology and its impact on fin ray flexural stiffness in labriform swimmers. J Morphol. 2018 08; 279(8):1031-1044. PMID: 29693259.
      View in: PubMed
    9. Aiello BR, Hardy AR, Cherian C, Olsen AM, Ahn SE, Hale ME, Westneat MW. The relationship between pectoral fin ray stiffness and swimming behavior in Labridae: insights into design, performance and ecology. J Exp Biol. 2018 01 09; 221(Pt 1). PMID: 29162638.
      View in: PubMed
    10. Longo SJ, Faircloth BC, Meyer A, Westneat MW, Alfaro ME, Wainwright PC. Phylogenomic analysis of a rapid radiation of misfit fishes (Syngnathiformes) using ultraconserved elements. Mol Phylogenet Evol. 2017 08; 113:33-48. PMID: 28487262.
      View in: PubMed
    11. Aiello BR, Westneat MW, Hale ME. Mechanosensation is evolutionarily tuned to locomotor mechanics. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2017 Apr 25; 114(17):4459-4464. PMID: 28396411.
      View in: PubMed
    12. Cooper WJ, Carter CB, Conith AJ, Rice AN, Westneat MW. The evolution of jaw protrusion mechanics is tightly coupled to bentho-pelagic divergence in damselfishes (Pomacentridae). J Exp Biol. 2017 02 15; 220(Pt 4):652-666. PMID: 27913600.
      View in: PubMed
    13. Olsen AM, Westneat MW. Linkage mechanisms in the vertebrate skull: Structure and function of three-dimensional, parallel transmission systems. J Morphol. 2016 12; 277(12):1570-1583. PMID: 27577864.
      View in: PubMed
    14. Swain TD, DuBois E, Gomes A, Stoyneva VP, Radosevich AJ, Henss J, Wagner ME, Derbas J, Grooms HW, Velazquez EM, Traub J, Kennedy BJ, Grigorescu AA, Westneat MW, Sanborn K, Levine S, Schick M, Parsons G, Biggs BC, Rogers JD, Backman V, Marcelino LA. Skeletal light-scattering accelerates bleaching response in reef-building corals. BMC Ecol. 2016 Mar 21; 16:10. PMID: 26996922.
      View in: PubMed
    15. McCord CL, Westneat MW. Evolutionary patterns of shape and functional diversification in the skull and jaw musculature of triggerfishes (Teleostei: Balistidae). J Morphol. 2016 06; 277(6):737-52. PMID: 26997352.
      View in: PubMed
    16. McCord CL, Westneat MW. Phylogenetic relationships and the evolution of BMP4 in triggerfishes and filefishes (Balistoidea). Mol Phylogenet Evol. 2016 Jan; 94(Pt A):397-409. PMID: 26408967.
      View in: PubMed
    17. Westneat MW, Olsen AM. How fish power suction feeding. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2015 Jul 14; 112(28):8525-6. PMID: 26150493.
      View in: PubMed
    18. Stoltzfus A, Lapp H, Matasci N, Deus H, Sidlauskas B, Zmasek CM, Vaidya G, Pontelli E, Cranston K, Vos R, Webb CO, Harmon LJ, Pirrung M, O'Meara B, Pennell MW, Mirarab S, Rosenberg MS, Balhoff JP, Bik HM, Heath TA, Midford PE, Brown JW, McTavish EJ, Sukumaran J, Westneat M, Alfaro ME, Steele A, Jordan G. Phylotastic! Making tree-of-life knowledge accessible, reusable and convenient. BMC Bioinformatics. 2013 May 13; 14:158. PMID: 23668630.
      View in: PubMed
    19. Marcelino LA, Westneat MW, Stoyneva V, Henss J, Rogers JD, Radosevich A, Turzhitsky V, Siple M, Fang A, Swain TD, Fung J, Backman V. Modulation of light-enhancement to symbiotic algae by light-scattering in corals and evolutionary trends in bleaching. PLoS One. 2013; 8(4):e61492. PMID: 23630594.
      View in: PubMed
    20. Drew J, Philipp C, Westneat MW. Shark tooth weapons from the 19th Century reflect shifting baselines in Central Pacific predator assemblies. PLoS One. 2013; 8(4):e59855. PMID: 23573214.
      View in: PubMed
    21. Waters JS, Lee WK, Westneat MW, Socha JJ. Dynamics of tracheal compression in the horned passalus beetle. Am J Physiol Regul Integr Comp Physiol. 2013 Apr 15; 304(8):R621-7. PMID: 23427081.
      View in: PubMed
    22. Russell BC, Westneat MW. A new species of Suezichthys (Teleostei: Perciformes: Labridae) from the south-eastern Pacific, with a redefinition of the genus and a key to species. Zootaxa. 2013; 3640:88-94. PMID: 26000407.
      View in: PubMed
    23. Drew JA, Buxman CL, Holmes DD, Mandecki JL, Mungkaje AJ, Richardson AC, Westneat MW. Biodiversity inventories and conservation of the marine fishes of Bootless Bay, Papua New Guinea. BMC Ecol. 2012 Aug 01; 12:15. PMID: 22849436.
      View in: PubMed
    24. Daly M, Herendeen PS, Guralnick RP, Westneat MW, McDade L. Systematics Agenda 2020: the mission evolves. Syst Biol. 2012 Jul; 61(4):549-52. PMID: 22492540.
      View in: PubMed
    25. Greenlee KJ, Henry JR, Kirkton SD, Westneat MW, Fezzaa K, Lee WK, Harrison JF. Synchrotron imaging of the grasshopper tracheal system: morphological and physiological components of tracheal hypermetry. Am J Physiol Regul Integr Comp Physiol. 2009 Nov; 297(5):R1343-50. PMID: 19710392.
      View in: PubMed
    26. Cooper WJ, Westneat MW. Form and function of damselfish skulls: rapid and repeated evolution into a limited number of trophic niches. BMC Evol Biol. 2009 Jan 30; 9:24. PMID: 19183467.
      View in: PubMed
    27. James Cooper W, Smith LL, Westneat MW. Exploring the radiation of a diverse reef fish family: phylogenetics of the damselfishes (Pomacentridae), with new classifications based on molecular analyses of all genera. Mol Phylogenet Evol. 2009 Jul; 52(1):1-16. PMID: 19135160.
      View in: PubMed
    28. Case JE, Westneat MW, Marshall CD. Feeding biomechanics of juvenile red snapper (Lutjanus campechanus) from the northwestern Gulf of Mexico. J Exp Biol. 2008 Dec; 211(Pt 24):3826-35. PMID: 19043055.
      View in: PubMed
    29. Socha JJ, Lee WK, Harrison JF, Waters JS, Fezzaa K, Westneat MW. Correlated patterns of tracheal compression and convective gas exchange in a carabid beetle. J Exp Biol. 2008 Nov; 211(Pt 21):3409-20. PMID: 18931314.
      View in: PubMed
    30. Smith LL, Fessler JL, Alfaro ME, Streelman JT, Westneat MW. Phylogenetic relationships and the evolution of regulatory gene sequences in the parrotfishes. Mol Phylogenet Evol. 2008 Oct; 49(1):136-52. PMID: 18621133.
      View in: PubMed
    31. Grubich JR, Rice AN, Westneat MW. Functional morphology of bite mechanics in the great barracuda (Sphyraena barracuda). Zoology (Jena). 2008; 111(1):16-29. PMID: 18082386.
      View in: PubMed
    32. Westneat MW, Socha JJ, Lee WK. Advances in biological structure, function, and physiology using synchrotron X-ray imaging*. Annu Rev Physiol. 2008; 70:119-42. PMID: 18271748.
      View in: PubMed
    33. Westneat MW. Zoology: twice bitten. Nature. 2007 Sep 06; 449(7158):33-4. PMID: 17805282.
      View in: PubMed
    34. Fessler JL, Westneat MW. Molecular phylogenetics of the butterflyfishes (Chaetodontidae): taxonomy and biogeography of a global coral reef fish family. Mol Phylogenet Evol. 2007 Oct; 45(1):50-68. PMID: 17625921.
      View in: PubMed
    35. Socha JJ, Westneat MW, Harrison JF, Waters JS, Lee WK. Real-time phase-contrast x-ray imaging: a new technique for the study of animal form and function. BMC Biol. 2007 Mar 01; 5:6. PMID: 17331247.
      View in: PubMed
    36. Anderson PS, Westneat MW. Feeding mechanics and bite force modelling of the skull of Dunkleosteus terrelli, an ancient apex predator. Biol Lett. 2007 Feb 22; 3(1):76-9. PMID: 17443970.
      View in: PubMed
    37. Hale ME, Day RD, Thorsen DH, Westneat MW. Pectoral fin coordination and gait transitions in steadily swimming juvenile reef fishes. J Exp Biol. 2006 Oct; 209(Pt 19):3708-18. PMID: 16985188.
      View in: PubMed
    38. Kammerer CF, Grande L, Westneat MW. Comparative and developmental functional morphology of the jaws of living and fossil gars (Actinopterygii: Lepisosteidae). J Morphol. 2006 Sep; 267(9):1017-31. PMID: 15593308.
      View in: PubMed
    39. Grubich JR, Westneat MW. Four-bar linkage modelling in teleost pharyngeal jaws: computer simulations of bite kinetics. J Anat. 2006 Jul; 209(1):79-92. PMID: 16822272.
      View in: PubMed
    40. Rice AN, Westneat MW. Coordination of feeding, locomotor and visual systems in parrotfishes (Teleostei: Labridae). J Exp Biol. 2005 Sep; 208(Pt 18):3503-18. PMID: 16155223.
      View in: PubMed
    41. Westneat MW, Alfaro ME. Phylogenetic relationships and evolutionary history of the reef fish family Labridae. Mol Phylogenet Evol. 2005 Aug; 36(2):370-90. PMID: 15955516.
      View in: PubMed
    42. Westneat MW, Alfaro ME, Wainwright PC, Bellwood DR, Grubich JR, Fessler JL, Clements KD, Smith LL. Local phylogenetic divergence and global evolutionary convergence of skull function in reef fishes of the family Labridae. Proc Biol Sci. 2005 May 22; 272(1567):993-1000. PMID: 16024356.
      View in: PubMed
    43. Thorsen DH, Westneat MW. Diversity of pectoral fin structure and function in fishes with labriform propulsion. J Morphol. 2005 Feb; 263(2):133-50. PMID: 15549721.
      View in: PubMed
    44. Westneat MW. Evolution of levers and linkages in the feeding mechanisms of fishes. Integr Comp Biol. 2004 Nov; 44(5):378-89. PMID: 21676723.
      View in: PubMed
    45. Mabuchi K, Miya M, Satoh TP, Westneat MW, Nishida M. Gene rearrangements and evolution of tRNA pseudogenes in the mitochondrial genome of the parrotfish (Teleostei: Perciformes: Scaridae). J Mol Evol. 2004 Sep; 59(3):287-97. PMID: 15553084.
      View in: PubMed
    46. Clements KD, Alfaro ME, Fessler JL, Westneat MW. Relationships of the temperate Australasian labrid fish tribe Odacini (Perciformes; Teleostei). Mol Phylogenet Evol. 2004 Aug; 32(2):575-87. PMID: 15223039.
      View in: PubMed
    47. Westneat MW. A biomechanical model for analysis of muscle force, power output and lower jaw motion in fishes. J Theor Biol. 2003 Aug 07; 223(3):269-81. PMID: 12850448.
      View in: PubMed
    48. Westneat MW, Betz O, Blob RW, Fezzaa K, Cooper WJ, Lee WK. Tracheal respiration in insects visualized with synchrotron x-ray imaging. Science. 2003 Jan 24; 299(5606):558-60. PMID: 12543973.
      View in: PubMed
    49. Hanel R, Westneat MW, Sturmbauer C. Phylogenetic relationships, evolution of broodcare behavior, and geographic speciation in the wrasse tribe Labrini. J Mol Evol. 2002 Dec; 55(6):776-89. PMID: 12486536.
      View in: PubMed
    50. Walker JA, Westneat MW. Kinematics, dynamics, and energetics of rowing and flapping propulsion in fishes. Integr Comp Biol. 2002 Nov; 42(5):1032-43. PMID: 21680385.
      View in: PubMed
    51. Ramamurti R, Sandberg WC, Löhner R, Walker JA, Westneat MW. Fluid dynamics of flapping aquatic flight in the bird wrasse: three-dimensional unsteady computations with fin deformation. J Exp Biol. 2002 Oct; 205(Pt 19):2997-3008. PMID: 12200403.
      View in: PubMed
    52. Hale ME, Long JH, McHenry MJ, Westneat MW. Evolution of behavior and neural control of the fast-start escape response. Evolution. 2002 May; 56(5):993-1007. PMID: 12093034.
      View in: PubMed
    53. Streelman JT, Alfaro M, Westneat MW, Bellwood DR, Karl SA. Evolutionary history of the parrotfishes: biogeography, ecomorphology, and comparative diversity. Evolution. 2002 May; 56(5):961-71. PMID: 12093031.
      View in: PubMed
    54. Walker JA, Westneat MW. Performance limits of labriform propulsion and correlates with fin shape and motion. J Exp Biol. 2002 Jan; 205(Pt 2):177-87. PMID: 11821484.
      View in: PubMed
    55. Pace CM, Blob RW, Westneat MW. Comparative kinematics of the forelimb during swimming in red-eared slider (Trachemys scripta) and spiny softshell (Apalone spinifera) turtles. J Exp Biol. 2001 Oct; 204(Pt 19):3261-71. PMID: 11606600.
      View in: PubMed
    56. Ferry-Graham LA, Wainwright PC, Westneat MW, Bellwood DR. Modulation of prey capture kinematics in the cheeklined wrasse Oxycheilinus digrammus (Teleostei: Labridae). J Exp Zool. 2001 Jul 01; 290(2):88-100. PMID: 11471138.
      View in: PubMed
    57. Walker JA, Westneat MW. Mechanical performance of aquatic rowing and flying. Proc Biol Sci. 2000 Sep 22; 267(1455):1875-81. PMID: 11052539.
      View in: PubMed
    58. Alfaro M, Westneat MW. Motor patterns of herbivorous feeding: electromyographic analysis of biting in the parrotfishes Cetoscarus bicolor and Scarus iseri. Brain Behav Evol. 1999 Oct; 54(4):205-22. PMID: 10592383.
      View in: PubMed
    59. Swithers SE, Westneat MW, Hall WG. Electromyographic analysis of oral habituation in rat pups. Physiol Behav. 1998 Jan; 63(2):197-203. PMID: 9423959.
      View in: PubMed
    60. Hoese WJ, Westneat MW. Biomechanics of cranial kinesis in birds: Testing linkage models in the white-throated sparrow (Zonotrichia albicollis). J Morphol. 1996 Mar; 227(3):305-320. PMID: 29852573.
      View in: PubMed
    61. Westneat MW, Long JH, Hoese W, Nowicki S. Kinematics of birdsong: functional correlation of cranial movements and acoustic features in sparrows. J Exp Biol. 1993 Sep; 182:147-71. PMID: 8228778.
      View in: PubMed
    62. Westneat MW, Hoese W, Pell CA, Wainwright SA. The horizontal septum: Mechanisms of force transfer in locomotion of scombrid fishes (Scombridae, Perciformes). J Morphol. 1993 Aug; 217(2):183-204. PMID: 29865470.
      View in: PubMed
    63. Westneat MW, Hall WG. Ontogeny of feeding motor patterns in infant rats: an electromyographic analysis of suckling and chewing. Behav Neurosci. 1992 Jun; 106(3):539-54. PMID: 1616619.
      View in: PubMed
    64. Westneat MW. Feeding mechanics of teleost fishes (Labridae; Perciformes): A test of four-bar linkage models. J Morphol. 1990 Sep; 205(3):269-295. PMID: 29865760.
      View in: PubMed
    65. Westneat MW, Wainwright PC. Feeding mechanism of Epibulus insidiator (Labridae; Teleostei): Evolution of a novel functional system. J Morphol. 1989 Nov; 202(2):129-150. PMID: 29865677.
      View in: PubMed
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