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John A. Byers

John A. Byers



Life Sciences South 343


(208) 885-6256

Mailing Address

Dept. of Biological Sciences
University of Idaho
875 Perimeter MS 3051
Moscow, Idaho 83844-3051

Research: Ecology & Evolutionary Biology

  • Ph.D. Zoology, University of Colorado,1980
  • M.S. Zoology, West Virginia University, 1975
  • B.A. Biology, Swarthmore College, 1970

I am an animal behaviorist primarily interested in behavioral development, play, sexual selection and female mate choice. I am a member and Fellow of the Animal Behavior Society. I maintain a longitudinal study of a population of pronghorn (Antilocapra americana) on the National Bison Range in western Montana. Projects now underway in this study, which has run since 1981, are measurement of costs and benefits of female mate choice and evaluation of the fitness consequences of inbreeding in the population.


  • Byers, J.A. 2012 (in press). Animal Behavior. A Beginner’s Guide. One World Press.
  • Byers, J. A. 2003. Built for Speed. A Year in the Life of Pronghorn. Harvard University Press.
  • Bekoff, M. and Byers, J. A. (eds.) 1998. Animal play: evolutionary, comparative, and ecological perspectives. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press
  • Byers, J. A. 1998. American pronghorn: social adaptations and the ghosts of predators past. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.

Refereed Journal Publications (2006 to Present)

  • Byers, J. and Dunn, S. 2012. Bateman in Nature: Predation on Offspring Reduces the Potential for Sexual Selection. Science, in press.
  • Dunn, S.J., Clancey, E. Waits, L. P. & Byers, J.A. 2012. Genetic evidence of inbreeding avoidance in pronghorn. Journal of Zoology, 1-8. doi:10.1111/j.1469-7998.2012.00932.x
  • Clancey, E., Dunn, S.J. & Byers, J.A. 2012. Do single point condition measurements predict fitness in female pronghorn (Antilocapra americana)? Canadian Journal of Zoology 90, 729-735.
  • Dunn, S. J., Waits, L. P. & Byers, J. A. 2012. Genetic versus behavioral estimators of the opportunity for sexual selection in the wild. American Naturalist 179, 451-462.
  • Dunn, S. J., Clancey, E., Waits, L. P. & Byers, J.A. 2011. Inbreeding depression in pronghorn (Antilocapra amaericana) fawns. Molecular Ecology 20, 4889-4898.
  • Barnowe-Meyer, K.K. White, P. J. & Byers, J. A. 2011. Maternal investment by Yellowstone pronghorn following winter habitat deterioration. Western North American Naturalist 71, 222-233.
  • Byers, J. A. 2011. Antilocapridae. In: Handbook of Mammals of the World (ed. by D. Wilson). Lynx Publishers.
  • Byers, J.A. 2010.  The Genial Gene. Deconstructing Darwinian Selfishness. Joan Roughgarden. Integrative and Comparative Biology 49, 718-720.
  • Byers, J. A., Hebets, E., & Podos, J. 2010. Female mate choice based upon male motor performance. Animal Behaviour 79, 771-778
  • Dunn, S.J., Barnowe-Meyer, K.K., Gebhardt, K. J., Balkenhol, N., Waits, L. P. & Byers, J. A. 2010. Ten polymorphic microsatellite markers for pronghorn (Antilocapra americana). Conservation Genetics Resources DOI 10.1007/s12686-009-9166-9
  • Barnowe-Meyer, K.K. White, P. J., Davis, T. L., Smith, D. W., Crabtree, R. L. & Byers, J. A. 2010. Influences of wolves and high-elevation dispersion on reproductive success of pronghorn (Antilocapra americana). Journal of Mammalogy 91, 712-721.
  • Barnowe-Meyer, K.K. White, P. J., Davis, T. L. & Byers, J. A. 2009. Predator-specific mortality of pronghorn on Yellowstone’s northern range. Western North American Naturalist 69, 186-194.
  • Dunn, S. J & Byers, J.A. 2008. Determinants of survival and fecundity through a population bottleneck in pronghorn (Antilocapra americana). Journal of Mammalogy 89, 1124-1129.
  • Byers, J. A. and Waits, L. 2006. Good genes sexual selection in nature. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America 103: 16343-16345.
  • Byers, J. A. 2006. Is pronghorn fecundity affected by habitat quality? Proceedings of the 22nd Pronghorn Workshop, 22: 27-39.

My research centers on a closed population of pronghorn (Antilocapra americana) on the National Bison Range in Northwestern Montana. Using an eight generation deep pedigree of the entire population, I am evaluating the hypothesis that female choice for good genes in a mate involves choosing those males with the smallest genetic loads for small effect deleterious mutations.

  • American Society of Mammalogists
  • Animal Behavior Society
  • Sigma Xi

  • 2008: Named Exemplar by the Animal Behavior Society
  • 2007: University of Idaho Annual Award for Research Excellence
  • 2001: Elected a Fellow of the Animal Behavior Society 
  • 1998: The Wildlife Society Book of the Year Award
  • 1991: University of Idaho Annual Award for Teaching Excellence
  • 1990: Alumni Award for Faculty Excellence University of Idaho Alumni Association
  • 1989: Burlington Northern Foundation Faculty Achievement Award
  • 1988: Distinguished Faculty Award, University of Idaho Alumni Association and University of Idaho Chapter of the honor society Phi Kappa Phi
  • 1988: Outstanding Faculty Award Associated Students University of Idaho
  • 1976: Brookfield Zoo Fellowship for summer research in Animal Behavior


Department of Biological Sciences

Physical Address:
Life Sciences South 252

Mailing Address:
875 Perimeter Drive MS 3051
Moscow, ID 83844-3051

Phone: 208-885-6280

Fax: 208-885-7905


Web: Department of Biological Sciences