Douglas Emlen

Douglas Emlen



Personal Website


B.A. Cornell University, 1989
Ph.D. Princeton University, 1994

Research Interests

I am an evolutionary biologist and Professor of Biology at the University of Montana. My research provides insights into the development and evolution of exaggerated male weaponry, such as the horns found in scarab beetles. I combine approaches from behavioral ecology, genetics, phylogenetics, and developmental biology to understand how evolution has shaped these bizarre structures. Current projects include an examination of how altered expression of appendage patterning genes contributes to species differences in the shape of horns, and how the insulin receptor (InR) pathway modulates the size of male weapons in response to the larval nutritional environment.  I also communicate the excitement of evolutionary biology to the popular press, such as National Public Radio and the New York Times, contributing to public understanding of animal diversity and morphological evolution. 


Sci Show Interview 1: Feb 2015 (

Sci SHow Interview 2: August 2015 (

Science For the People Interview: August 2015 (

NPR On Point Interview November 2014 (

NPR Science Friday Interview November 2014 (


Selected Publications


2015 EVOLUTION: Making Sense of Life, Second Edition (Roberts & Company Publishers)

2014 ANIMAL WEAPONS: The Evolution of Battle (Henry Holt/ Macmillan Publishers)


2015.  Lavine, L., Gotoh, H., Brent, C. S., Dworkin, I. and Emlen, D. 2014. Exaggerated trait growth in insects. Annual Review of Entomology, 60:453–72.

2014   McCullough, E., Tobalske, B., and Emlen, D. J. Structural adaptations to diverse fighting styles in sexually selected weapons. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. doi: 10.1073/pnas.1409585111.

2014  Gotoh, H. Miyakawa, H., Ishikawa, A., Ishikawa, Y., Sugime, Y., Emlen, D. J., Lavine, L. C., and Miura, T. Developmental link between sex and nutrition: doublesex regulates sex-specific mandible growth via juvenile hormone signaling in stag beetles. PLoS Genetics, journal.pgen.1004098. (With Cover)

2013  Warren, I. A., Gotoh, H., Dworkin, I. M., Emlen, D. J. and Corley-Lavine, L. A. A general mechanism for conditional expression of exaggerated sexually- selected traits. BioEssays, 35: 889-899. 

2012   Emlen, D.J., Warren, I. A., Johns, A., Dworkin, I. and Corley-Lavine, L. A     mechanism of extreme growth and reliable signaling in sexually selected     ornaments and weapons. Science, 337: 860-864. (With Cover) 





Neuroscience Courses

BIOE 406 - Behavior & Evolution

Home Department

Division of Biological Sciences 

Area of Expertise

Animal Weaponry; Beetles; Evolutionary Biology