Merrill Peterson , PhD


Research Interests

Insect Biodiversity Informatics

Development of web-based resources for identification of moths, butterflies, sawflies, and other insects (Pacific Northwest Moths)

Author of Pacific Northwest Insects (2018, Seattle Audubon Society, 528 pp.)

Insect Ecology, Evolution, & Diversity

Land use effects on insect diversity and community composition

Insect diversity and distribution in Pacific Northwest ecosystems

Evolution of reproductive barriers in hybridizing insects

Community consequences of mutualistic interactions between herbivorous insects and ants

Insect dispersal and gene flow

Butterfly conservation biology




Educational & Professional Experience


1994 Ph.D. in Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, Cornell University.

1987 B.S. in Zoology, University of Washington.



2016- Chair, Biology Dept, Western Washington University

2015- Adjunct Professor, Entomology Dept, Washington State Univ.

2007- Professor, Biology Dept, Western Washington University

2004-2015 Adjunct Associate Professor, Entomology Dept, Washington State Univ.

2001-2007 Associate Professor, Biology Dept, Western Washington University

1997- Curator, WWU Insect Collection (WWUC)

1997-2001 Assistant Professor, Biology Dept, Western Washington University

1994-1997 Postdoc. Res. Assoc., Dept of Entomology, Univ. of MD, College Park

1990-1993 Graduate Teaching Asst., Ecology & Systematics, Cornell Univ.


Selected Awards & Honors

2018 Eponymous species description: Rhabdorthodes petersoni Crabo (Lepidoptera: Noctuidae)

2009 Paul J. Olscamp Research Award, WWU

2006 Undergraduate-coauthored paper listed by Faculty of 1000 Biology

2003 Research Fellowship, Alexander von Humboldt Foundation, Germany

1993 Outstanding Teaching Assistant, College of Agric. & Life Sci., Cornell Univ.

1987 National Science Foundation Graduate Fellowship


Recent Publications

*Larson, E.L., *Brassil, M.M., *Maslan, J., *Juarez, D., *Lilagan, F., *Tipton, H., *Schweitzer, A., *Skillman, J., Monsen-Collar, K.J., and M.A. Peterson. 2019. The effects of heterospecific mating frequency on the strength of cryptic reproductive barriers. Journal of Evolutionary Biology 32: 900-912.

*Maurer, J.A., Shepard, J.H. Crabo, L.G., Hammond, P.C., Zack, R.S., and M.A. Peterson. 2018. Phenological responses of 215 moth species to interannual climate variation in the Pacific Northwest from 1895 through 2013. PLoS ONE 13(9): e0202850.

Peterson, M.A. 2018. Pacific Northwest Insects. Seattle Audubon Society (Seattle, WA). 528 pp.

Whaley, D.K., **Marshall, A., Yoon, C.K., and M.A. Peterson. 2017. Parabacillus hesperus Hebard, 1934 (Phasmida: Heteronemiidae): new state records for Washington and Idaho, and an assessment of its distribution in the Pacific Northwest region (U.S.A.). Pan-Pacific Entomologist 93(1): 22-28.

Seltmann, K.C., Cobb, N.S., Gall, L.F., Bartlett, C.R., Basham, M.A., Betancourt, I., Bills, C., Brandt, B., Brown, R.L., Bundy, C., Caterino, M.S., Chapman, C., Cognato, A., Colby, J., Cook, S.P., Daly, K.M., Dyer, L., Franz, N.M., Gelhaus, J.K., Grinter, C.C., Harp, C.E., Hawkins, R.L., Heydon, S.L, Hill, G.M., Huber, S., Johnson, N., Kawahara, A.Y., Kimsey, L.S., Kondratieff, B.C., Krell, F.-T., Leblanc, L., Lee, S., Marshall, C.J., McCabe, L.M., McHugh, J.V., Menard, K.L., Opler, P.A., Palffy-Muhoray, N., Pardikes, N., Peterson, M.A., Pierce, N.E., Poremski, A., Sikes, D.S., Weintraub, J.D., Wikle, D., Zaspel, J.M., and G. Zolnerowich. 2017. LepNet: The Lepidoptera of North America Network. Zootaxa 4247 (1): 073-077.

Looney, C., Smith, D.R., Collman, S.J., Langor, D.W., and M.A. Peterson. 2016. Sawflies (Hymenoptera, Symphyta) newly recorded from Washington State. Journal of Hymenoptera Research 49: 129-159

**Shelby, T., and M.A. Peterson. 2015. Despite extensive pollinator sharing, invasive blackberry has negligible impacts on reproductive success of a rare native wildflower. Northwest Science 89: 47-57.

Crabo, L, Peterson, M., Zack, R, Hammond, P, Shepard, J, and **M. Davis. 2012. Moths of the Pacific Northwest: Drepanidae, Uraniidae, Lasiocampidae, Saturniidae, Sphingidae, Notodontidae, Erebidae, Euteliidae, Nolidae, and Noctuidae. Printed by Washington State University College of Agriculture, Human, and Natural Resource Sciences & M.T. James Entomological Collection, Pullman, WA. 100 pp.

Peterson, M.A., *Larson, E.L., *Brassil, M., *Buckingham, K.J., *Juárez, D., *Deas, J., *Mangloña, D., *White, M.A., *Maslan, J., *Schweitzer, A., and K.J. Monsen. 2011. Cryptic gametic interactions confer both conspecific and heterospecific advantages in the Chrysochus (Coleoptera: Chrysomelidae) hybrid zone. Genetica 139: 663-676.

Peterson, M.A. 2010. Monitoring plan for the Island Marble butterfly (Euchloe ausonides insulanus) at American Camp, San Juan Island National Historical Park. 21pp.

*undergraduate coauthors; **graduate student coauthors