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Dr. Thomas McCarthy
Chair of Biology

(315) 792-2510
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Bachelor of Science Degree • School of Arts and Sciences

Biology Faculty


The biology faculty of Utica College is noted not only for the quality of its teaching but also for the depth and breadth of its scholarship. Research conducted by faculty members involves students. These students earn research credit, gain valuable field and lab experience, and publish their research in peer-reviewed scientific journals. This student research has been supported by grants from the National Institutes of Health, the National Science Foundation, NASA, the National Geographic Society, The Alden Trust, The Community Foundation, and the New York Energy and Development Authority. Many biology professors have been honored with the college's awards for distinguished teaching, research, or both.

Note: For a listing of adjunct faculty, click here >

Members of the biology faculty and their research interests are:

Bryant W. Buchanan, Ph.D.


Professor of Biology



Bryant Buchanan
Phone: (315) 792-3131
Office: 162 Gordon Science Center


Biography


Dr. Buchanan's ResearchGate Page

Brief Autobiograhical Statement


I am excited to be able to assist in the training of a new generation of scientists. I love science and I love teaching. I received my B.S in Zoology in 1986 from the University of Southern Mississippi. I completed my M.S. in Biology at the University of Louisiana - Lafayette in 1988 where I studied territoriality and competition for diurnal retreat sites and nocturnal activity patterns in the squirrel treefrog, Hyla squirella.

I completed my Ph.D. in 1993 at the University of Louisiana - Lafayette where I studied factors influencing the expression of alternative reproductive tactics in male squirrel treefrogs and several species of treefrogs in the Amazonian rainforest. I performed postdoctoral research at the University of Missouri where I studied the influence of chorus structure and male energetic condition on male display and female mate choice in the gray treefrog, Hyla versicolor. I also performed postdoctoral research at the University of Virginia's Mountain Lake Biological Station where I investigated the basic nocturnal visual capabilities of the nocturnal red-backed salamander (Plethodon cinereus) and how different sensory modalities interact during social interactions in that species.

My first teaching appointment was as a visiting assistant professor in the Biology Department at the University of Missouri teaching General Biology from 1996 until 1997 when I accepted a position in the Department of Natural Sciences at Stephens College teaching a wide variety of biology courses. I joined the Utica College community in 2001. I teach courses such as General Biology, Genetics, Evolution, and Biology of Vertebrates.


Research Interests and Research in Progress

My primary research interest is in the effect of artificial night lighting (light pollution) on the behavior, growth, development, and physiology of nocturnal organisms like amphibians. Most animals have evolved under conditions of distinctly light day and distinctly dark night and our hormones respond accordingly. At night, our brains produce the hormone melatonin whereas during the day our brains produce seratonin. Most biological processes are tied to this day-night cycle of hormone production and I study the impact of the disruption of the normal lighting pattern on fundamental biological processes. My favorite model organisms are frogs and salamanders but I'm enjoying broadening my research through collaborative research on organisms like mollusks and insects.

I'm fascinated by 'Nature vs. Nurture' or how genetics and environment interact to shape the evolution of characteristics. My primary research interest is in how individual and species-specific characteristics and current ecological conditions affect and constrain the evolution of behavior. I study the evolution of amphibian (frog and salamander) behavior and communication as my model system. I am particularly interested in the evolution of alternative reproductive tactics and I study how males' physical characteristics, their energetic condition, and the local competitive environment influence their mating behavior, interactions with other males, and their probabilities of finding mates. I also study the basic nocturnal visual capabilities of frogs and salamanders, how vision interacts with other sensory modalities, and how those basic visual capabilities constrain and affect communication and the evolution of communication and behavior.



Most Recent Research Publications (undergraduate co-authors in boldface)

2008. Perry, G., B. W. Buchanan, R. Fisher, M. Salmon, and S. Wise. Effects of night lights on urban reptiles and amphibians. Chapter 16 in: Urban Herpetology: Ecology, Conservation and Management of Amphibians and Reptiles in Urban and Suburban Environments. J. C. Mitchell, R. E. Jung Brown and B. Bartholomew (ed.). Herpetological Conservation 3: 211-228.

2007. Taylor, R., B. Buchanan, and J. Doherty*. Sexual Selection in the Squirrel Treefrog, Hyla squirella: The Role of Multimodal Cue Assessment in Female Choice. Animal Behaviour. 74:1153-1163.

2006. Buchanan, B. W. Observed and potential effects of light pollution on anuran amphibians. Chapter 9 in Longcore, T. and C. Rich (Eds). Ecological Consequences of Artificial Night Lighting. Island Press; pp. 192-220.

2006. Wise, S. E. and B. W. Buchanan. The influence of artificial illumination on the nocturnal behavior and physiology of salamanders: studies in the laboratory and field. Chapter 10 in Longcore, T. and C. Rich (Eds). Ecological Consequences of Artificial Night Lighting. Island Press; pp. 221-251.

2003. Schwartz, J. J., B. W. Buchanan, and H. C. Gerhardt. Acoustic interactions among male gray treefrogs in a chorus setting. Behavioral Ecology and Sociobiology 53:9-19.

2001. Schwartz, J. J., B. W. Buchanan, and H. C. Gerhardt. Female mate choice in the gray treefrog in three experimental environments. Behavioral Ecology and Sociobiology 49:443-455.


Papers In Preparation (undergraduate co-authors in boldface)

Taylor, R., T., T. Owens, and B. Buchanan. (In Preparation) Ultraviolet vision in the squirrel treefrog, Hyla squirella.

Buchanan, B.W. and S. E. Wise. (In Preparation). The influence of rapid increases in illumination on visually guided foraging behavior in the red-backed salamander, Plethodon cinereus: implications for the observation of nocturnal animal behavior.

Jackson, E., B. W. Buchanan, and S. E. Wise. (In Preparation). An Evaluation of Illumination Levels Available to Leaf Litter Organisms that Reside in or Below the Leaf Litter.

Bushinger, S., Buchanan, B. and S. Wise. (In Preparation). Visual prey detection by red-backed salamanders, Plethodon cinereus, under 'black light.'


Recent Presentations (undergraduate co-authors in boldface)

2010. Buchanan, B. W., S. E. Wise, T. McCarthy, H. Savage, J. June, and K. Bingel. Effects of Artificial Night Lighting on Growth and Development in Aquatic Snails and Frog Larvae. Symposium: Artificial lights and nature: challenges for dusk-to-dawn conservation management at the 24th International Congress for Conservation Biology, Edmonton, Alberta, Canada.

2010. Wise, S. B. Buchanan, J. Cordova, P. Dawes, and A. Rohacek. Impacts of artificial night lighting on the behavior of nocturnal salamanders. Symposium: Artificial lights and nature: challenges for dusk-to-dawn conservation management at the 24th International Congress for Conservation Biology, Edmonton, Alberta, Canada.

2010. Rohacek, A.*, S. Wise, and B. Buchanan. The Effects of Artificial Night Lighting on the Nocturnal Activity of the Terrestrial Red-backed Salamander, Plethodon cinereus. Poster presentation - 24th International Congress for Conservation Biology, Edmonton, Alberta, Canada.

2010. McCarthy, T., B. Buchanan, S. Wise, and T. Provost. Nocturnal light pollution and chemical contaminants alter reproductive patterns and hormone concentrations of hermaphroditic freshwater snails. Symposium: Reproduction and mating systems in hermaphroditic mollusks; World Congress of Malacology, Bangkok, Thailand.

2009. Wise, S., B. Buchanan, and P. Dawes*. Light at night affects surface activity of red-backed salamanders. Joint Meeting of Ichthyologists and Herpetologists (ASIH, HL, SSAR). Portland, OR.

2008. Buchanan, B. W., H. Savage*, S. Wise, and K. Bingel*. Artificial night lighting affects anuran larval growth and development. Joint Meeting of Ichthyologists and Herpetologists (ASIH, HL, SSAR). Montreal, Quebec.

2008. McCarthy, T., J. June, K. Vo, S. Wise, and B. Buchanan. Artificial night lighting alters behavioral, growth, and reproductive patterns of an aquatic hermaphrodite snail. International Society for Behavioral Ecology. Cornell Univeristy, Ithaca, NY.

2008. Vo, K.*, T. McCarthy, S. Wise, and B. Buchanan. The effect of artificial night lighting and time of day on activity in the aquatic snail (Physa acuta). Northeast Natural History Conference X. New York Museum of Natural History. Albany, NY.

2008. McCarthy, T., J. June, K. Vo, S. Wise, and B. Buchanan. Artificial night lighting alters behavioral, growth, and reproductive patterns of an aquatic hermaphrodite snail. International Society for Behavioral Ecology. Cornell Univeristy, Ithaca, NY.

2008. Vo, K.*, T. McCarthy, S. Wise, and B. Buchanan. The effect of artificial night lighting and time of day on activity in the aquatic snail (Physa acuta). Northeast Natural History Conference X. New York Museum of Natural History. Albany, NY.

2007. Invited Presentation - Ecological and Human Health Concerns: What Can Wildlife Tell Us? Symposium on Ecological and Human Health Concerns at conference: The Night: Why Dark Hours Are So Important, International Dark Sky Association, Carnegie Institution, Washington, DC

2007. McCarthy, J. June*, B. Buchanan, S. Wise, and T. Provost. Nocturnal Light Levels Alter Testosterone Concentrations and the Onset of Reproduction in Hermaphroditic Freshwater Snails. The Endocrine Society's 90th Annual Meeting, Toronto, ON.




Opportunities for Student Research

I encourage students to participate in my research concerning the evolution of behavior in amphibians (primarily treefrogs and salamanders). Please visit the Student Research page for descriptions of ongoing projects. Some current project goals are to:

* 1) Assess the effects of light pollution on the nocturnal behavior, reproduction, and physiology of amphibians (frogs, salamanders) and invertebrates such as mollusks (snails, slugs) and insects (fruit flies, crickets). Current projects include evaluations of the effects of night lighting on nocturnal activity, wound healing and organ regeneration, feeding behavior, and metabolism.

* 2) Study the basic nocturnal visual capabilities of frogs and salamanders. I am particularly interested in how low-illumination vision constrains the evolution of communication in nocturnal animals and wish to test hypotheses concerning the roles of absolute light level, color vision, ultraviolet vision, and contrast dependence in mate choice and foraging..

* 3) Assess the role of nocturnal vision in the evolutionary and behavioral ecology of nocturnal frogs and salamanders.

* 4) Study the interaction of different sensory modalities in the evolution of amphibian communication and behavior.

* 5) Study the role of different sensory systems involved in gender recognition in the evolution of tactic choice in treefrogs.

* 6) Assess the relative genetic and environmental contributions to individual variation in feeding behavior in amphibians with the aim of understanding why individuals vary so much in energy availability.

* 7) Study the evolution of mate choice by female treefrogs and how female mate choice influences the evolution of male alternative mating tactics.

* 8) Clarify the role of non-reproductive behavior in constraining and affecting the evolution of reproductive behavior.

* 9) Assess the role of age in males' choices of alternative reproductive tactics.


Recent Grants and Awards

2010. Community Foundation and Alden Trust equipment grants - Utica College

2001. Century Candle Award for outstanding contribution to student life - Stephens College

2001. Outstanding Advisor Award - Student Government Association - Stephens College

1999. Distinguished Teacher Award - Stephens College.

1997. Purple Chalk Teaching Award - College of Arts and Sciences – University of Missouri.

Courses Taught

BIO 212/212L - General Biology II

Diversity of life approached through the unifying theme of evolution. Comparative study of the form and function of representative species. Laboratory emphasizes comparative anatomy studies of the structural components of various organisms.

BIO 321/321Lab - Genetics and Genetics Lab

A course concerned with the fundamental mechanisms of inheritance and their consequences as viewed from the molecular, cellular, organismal, and population levels. Laboratory exercises explore classical patterns of inheritance in sexually reproducing organisms.

BIO 329 - Evolution

Modern theory of the process of evolution: mutation, genetic recombination, chromosomal organization, natural selection and isolating mechanisms.

BIO 400 Special Topics in Biology

BIO 436/436L - Biology of Vertebrates

Vertebrate animals from an evolutionary perspective. Laboratory emphasizes comparative anatomy including gross anatomical and histological material. Lecture includes ecology, behavior, anatomy, and evolutionary relationships.

BIO 450 - Senior Research

BIO 495 - Senior Seminar

Critical analysis of research literature and integration of diverse disciplines to foster a more comprehensive understanding of issues in the biological sciences. Recent Topics: Evolutionary Medicine; Genetics of Behavior; Effects of Light Pollution on Human Health and Wildlife.

BIO 626 Teaching Evolution

Review of philosophy of science and biological evidence of evolution as it pertains to the teaching of evolutionary biology, particularly in secondary education. We emphasize using the primary literature to answer concerns from students and the community about evolution.