Peter K. Ducey,
SUNY Distinguished Teaching Professor;
Director, Undergraduate Research Council
Adelphi University, B.S.
University of Michigan, M.S., Ph.D.
Courses Frequently Taught
Biological Sciences II
Biology of Vertebrates
My current research encompasses three areas:
- environmental biology of reptiles and amphibians;
- ecology of invading organisms; and
- the evolution of behavior.
Each area involves student research assistants and collaboration with colleagues from other universities and from state and federal agencies.
- I am studying the effects of human environmental disturbances and urbanization on the distributions of reptiles and amphibians. At present, this project involves extensive fieldwork in central New York and at Onondaga Lake in particular. The Onondaga Lake ecosystem, which lies at the edge of the city of Syracuse, supports interesting herpetofaunal populations despite extensive pollution and habitat modification. How these species can tolerate this extreme environment requires much further study.
- My students and I are also studying the evolutionary ecology and conservation biology of invading terrestrial flatworms of the genus Bipalium. These fascinating broadhead planarians were transported to the US over the last century and feed voraciously on local soil invertebrates. My students and I, using field and laboratory studies, are examining the distribution, spread, and ecological roles of these potentially impactful flatworms.
- Using both phylogenetic and ecological approaches, I have been investigating how behavior evolves. Behavioral traits, like morphological and physiological traits, are the products of complex interactions of evolutionary, ontological, and environmental factors. My interest in this area combines experimental and theoretical analyses of both behavioral homology and evolutionary transitions in the behavior of organisms of all kinds. My experimental work has focused on the defensive behavior of salamanders, flatworms, and earthworms.