Michael Sheehan







Lab meetings










    Ecology and Evolutionary Biology
    333 Biosciences West
    1041 E. Lowell
    University of Arizona
    Tucson, AZ 85721
    Tel: (520) 626-4747
    FAX: (520) 621-9190
    E-mail: michaelsheehan@email.arizona.edu


    I am broadly interested in understanding the causes and consequences of social behavior, particularly as they relate to communication and cognition.

    My dissertation work on Polistes wasps examined the evolution of individual recognition in P. fuscatus, which recognizes individuals by their highly distinctive color patterns. My research examined both the evolution of the highly variable color patterns in P. fuscatus as well as cognitive abilities associated with recognition.

    My current research is centered on further understanding the evolution of distinctive identity signals, using house mice as a model. This project seeks to link genetic variation to phenotypes used for individual recognition as well as look for molecular signatures of selection on loci involved in individual recognition. This work is conducted in collaboration with Drs. Jane Hurst and Rob Beynon (University of Liverpool)

    As an extension of my work on individual recognition, I am collaborating with Dr. Thore Bergman (University of Michigan) to investigate the relationships between mechanisms for gathering social information, such as individual recognition and quality signals.

    In addition to my work on communicaiton, I am also working on a project investigating variation in rates of cooperative breeding across paper wasps.


    Tibbetts, E.A. & Sheehan, M.J. (In press). Individual recognition and the evolution of learning and memory in Polistes paper wasps. In Handbook of Invertebrate Learning and Memory.

    Tibbetts, E.A. & Sheehan, M.J. (2012). The effect of juvenile hormone on Polistes wasp fertility varies with cooperative behavior. Hormones and Behavior 61: 559-564

    Sheehan, M.J. & Tibbetts, E.A. (2011). Specialized face learning is associated with individual recognition in paper wasps. Science 334: 1272-1275.
              -F1000 ‘Exceptional’ Rating
              -News and Views in Nature, Dispatch in Current Biology

    Tibbetts, E.A. & Sheehan, M.J. (2011). Facial patterns are a conventional signal of agonistic ability in Polistes exclamans paper wasps. Ethology 117: 1138-1146.

    Sheehan, M.J. & Tibbetts, E.A. (2011). Condition-dependence and the origins of elevated fluctuating asymmetry in quality signals. Behavioral Ecology 22: 1166-1172.

    Sheehan, M.J. & Tibbetts, E.A. (2010) Selection for individual recognition and the evolution of polymorphic identity signals in Polistes paper wasps. Journal of Evolutionary Biology 23: 570-577.

    Cords, M., M.J. Sheehan, L.S. Ekernas. (2010). Sex and age differences in juvenile social priorities in female-philopatric, non-despotic blue monkeys. American Journal of Primatology 72: 193-205.
              *Cover photo

    Sheehan, M.J. & Tibbetts, E.A. (2009). Evolution of identity signals: Frequency-dependent benefits of distinctive phenotypes used for individual recognition. Evolution 63: 3106-3113.
              *Cover photo

    Sheehan, M.J. & Tibbetts, E.A. (2008). Robust long-term social memories in a paper wasp. Current Biology 18: R851-2.

    Tibbetts, E.A., M.J. Sheehan, J Dale. (2008). A testable definition of individual recognition. Trends in Ecology and Evolution 23(7): 356.

    Schoenemann, P.T., L.D. Glotzer, M.J. Sheehan. (2005). Reply to "Is prefrontal white matter enlargement a human evolutionary specialization?" Nature Neuroscience 8: 538.

    Schoenemann, P.T., M.J. Sheehan, and L.D. Glotzer. (2005). Prefrontal white matter volume is disproportionately larger in humans than in other primates. Nature Neuroscience 8: 242-252.
              -F1000 ‘Must Read’ Rating


    University of Michigan, Ph.D. in Ecology and Evolutionary Biology 2012
    Advisor: Elizabeth Tibbetts

    University of Pennsylvania, B.A. in Physical Anthropology, 2005
    Advisors: Robert Seyfarth and Dorothy Cheney


    2012-2015 NIH NRSA: Evolutionary of individually distinct major urinary protein profiles in the house mouse [PI: $148,518]

    2009-2011 E.S. George Reserve Grants, University of Michigan [$13,158]


    2012-2015 NIH NRSA Postdoctoral fellowship

    2010-2011 Pre-doctoral fellowship, University of Michigan

    2007         Whiitaker Research Mentoring Fellow, University of Michigan

    2003         Fulbright-Hayes IsiZulu Group Project Abroad

    2001-2005 Trustees Scholar, University of Pennsylvania


    2011 Allee Award for Best Student Paper, Animal Behavior Society

    2010 Best Graduate Student Paper, EEB, University of Michigan

    2005 Phi Beta Kappa, University of Pennsylvania

    2005 Dean's Scholar, School of Arts and Sciences, University of Pennsylvania

    2003-2005 University Scholar, University of Pennsylvania