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M. Denise Dearing

Distinguished Professor

Ph.D. University of Utah


Graduate Program Membership:

Office/Building: ASB 530A
Phone: 801-585-0622
Email: dearing@bioscience.utah.edu
Dearing Lab: https://www.dearinglab.com/

Research Statement


At every meal, herbivores are faced with the prospect of being poisoned by naturally occurring toxins in plants. Little experimental work exists on the physiological mechanisms that mammalian herbivores employ to deal with plant toxins or how some species such as Stephen's woodrat are capable of specializing on toxic plants. Our research focuses on ecological factors and physiological constraints that influence foraging behavior and the evolution of diet breadth in mammalian herbivores. In addition to plant-herbivore interactions, my lab studies host-pathogen interactions. We are currently investigating the ecological aspects of Sin Nombre virus and its reservoir the deer mouse (Peromyscus maniculatus).

Research Interests


General Interests
Specific Interests
  • Physiological and behavioral ecology
  • Plant-herbivore interactions
  • Disease ecology

Courses Taught


  • Biol 3415: Ecology laboratory
  • Biol 5370: Mammology
  • Biol 7964: Boot Camp