‌Richard Tokarz

ASSOCIATE PROFESSOR

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13 Cox Science Center
1301 Memorial Drive, Coral Gables, FL 33124
E-mail: rtokarz@bio.miami.edu
Office: (305) 284-6209
Fax: (305) 284-3039
Personal Site


EDUCATION AND PROFESSIONAL EXPERIENCE

  • 1983-present, University of Miami
  • Assistant Professor, 1981-1982, Ramapo College
  • Postdoctoral Fellow in Biology, 1978-1981, Harvard University
  • Postdoctoral Trainee, 1977-1978, Vanderbilt University: N.I.H
  • Ph.D., 1977, The University of Colorado, Boulder
  • M.S., 1968, The University of New Mexico
  • B.S., 1966, The University of New Mexico

GRANTS AND AWARDS

  • NSF, Sensory Determinants of Sperm Delivery, 1988-1990
  • Junior Investigators Research Grant, Innovative Research of America, 1985
  • N.I.H. Biomedical Research Support Grants, Neural Androgen Action in Reptiles, 1984
  • N.I.H. Biomedical Research Support Grants, Antigonadal Activity of Gonadotropin-Releasing Hormone Analogs in Reptiles,1983
  • Harvard University; Postdoctoral Fellow in Biology; 1978-1981
  • Vanderbilt University; N.I.H. Postdoctoral Trainee; 1977-1978

AREAS OF FOCUS

  • Behavior and Behavioral Ecology

RESEARCH INTERESTS

The general goal of my research is to understand the causal mechanisms and adaptive significance of male and female reproductive behaviors. I use lizards in my research because these vertebrates have highly stereotyped reproductive behaviors that are easily studied in both the field and laboratory. I study mating behavior, display behavior, mate choice, sperm competition, and how hormones affect behaviors. My research of the brown anole lizard has yielded some interesting new findings. For example, my research on male copulatory behavior has documented that males exhibit a significant pattern of alternation in the use of their two mating organs (hemipenes) and that this alternation is adaptive because it maximizes sperm transfer to females during successive copulations. My research on mate choice has demonstrated that males differentiate between familiar and unfamiliar females and preferentially court and mate with unfamiliar females. And my research on display behavior has shown that the extension of the male’s colorful throat fan (dewlap) during courtship is not necessary for males to attract females as mating partners.


TEACHING INTERESTS

My teaching philosophy is that students respond to a teacher’s expectations. Thus, I inform students on the first day of class that I expect them to perform at a high academic level. I believe that the best benchmark indicating student success in understanding the concepts presented in a course is whether or not students are able to successfully communicate these concepts to others. Thus, I tell my students that they should prepare for examinations by trying to explain the covered material without referring to their notes, flash cards, or books. In other words, I want my students to have a “working knowledge” of the subject. To achieve this goal, I inform students why the subject is important in their lives, encourage students to learn collectively by having students discuss and explain the course material to each other, and stress that learning is a dynamic process that requires that students develop the ability to assess the relative importance of information and ideas on their own.Undergraduate courses: I have relatively recently developed a course in behavioral endocrinology (BIL 345) that has attracted considerable student interest from not only biology majors but from psychology majors. The textbook for this course is “An Introduction to Behavioral Endocrinology, Third Edition (2005)” by Randy J. Nelson. I have also taught for many years a general course in endocrinology (BIL 365). Almost all of the department’s premedical students take this course. Based on feedback from former students who have graduated from medical school, this course is very useful for those students who are interested in going to medical school or to graduate school in the biological sciences. The textbook for this course is “Endocrinology, Sixth Edition (2006)” by Mac E. Hadley and J. Levine. I have also taught a course in animal behavior for non-majors (BIL105).

Graduate course: I teach a course in hormones and behavior for graduate students (BIL 641). In this course, students read and discuss articles from the primary literature, write a research paper on a topic relating to hormones and behavior, and give an oral presentation of their research topic.


SELECTED PUBLICATIONS

  • Tokarz, R. R., and Summers, C. H. (2011). Stress and reproduction in reptiles. In D. Norris and K. Lopez, (Eds.), Hormones and Reproduction of Vertebrates, Vol. 3 (pp. 169-213). Academic Press, New York
  • Tokarz, R. R. (2008). Males distinguish between former female residents of their territories and unfamiliar, nonresident females as preferred mating partners in the lizard Anolis sagrei. Journal of Herpetology 42, 260-264.
  • Tokarz, R. R. (2007) Changes in the intensity of male courtship behavior following physical exposure of males to previously unfamiliar females in brown anoles (Anolis sagrei). Journal of Herpetology, 41, 501-505.
  • Tokarz, R. R. (2006). Importance of prior physical contact with familiar females in the development of a male courtship and mating preference for unfamiliar females in the lizard Anolis sagrei. Herpetologica.62, 115-124.
  • Tokarz, R. R., Paterson, A. V., and McMann, S. (2003). Laboratory and field test of the functional significance of the male’s dewlap in the lizard Anolis sagrei. Copeia 2003, 502-511.
  • Tokarz, R. R., McMann, S, Smith, L. C., and John-Alder, H. (2002). Effects of testosterone treatment and season on the frequency of dewlap extensions during male-male interactions in the lizard Anolis sagrei. Hormones and Behavior 41:70-79.