Debra Shier

Assistant Adjunct Professor

office:  Life Science Building 4318

Recent Courses

EE BIOL 151B - Field Tropical Ecology
ENVIRON 180B - Practicum in Environmental Science

Research Interests

Dr. Debra Shier is the Brown Endowed Associate Director of Recovery Ecology. She runs a growing program focused on threatened and endangered mammals and frogs in the Southwest. For over 20 years she has been studying the ways in which an understanding of animal behavior and ecology can be applied to conservation strategies such as reintroductions and translocations. In general, her research has focused on using basic theory to create effective and efficient relocation methods by encouraging settlement, dampening stress, and increasing fitness with an emphasis on behavioral competency. Her research collaboration with our Genetics division includes landscape level genetics to inform reserve management practices and species recovery. More recently, her research has expanded into local restoration and examining anthropogenic effects on wildlife behavior, fitness and persistence.

On campus, Dr. Shier currently runs a captive breeding/reintroduction program for the endangered pacific pocket mouse that focuses on survival skill development, sensory ecology, mate choice, foraging, antipredator behavior, stress and genetic management. Off campus, she has domestic projects throughout San Diego, Orange, Riverside and San Bernardino Counties which include research on reintroduction and translocation biology, effects of light and sound on nocturnal species, effects of stress in relocation and range-wide genetics. She is also a part of an international collaboration on Tasmanian devil reintroduction. Her model species include: Stephens? and San Bernardino kangaroo rats, California ground squirrel, Pacific and Los Angeles pocket mice, Black-tailed prairie dogs, Ringtails, Tasmanian devils, and Mountain Yellow-legged frog. In her capacity as an adjunct faculty member at UCLA she also studies, Poison dart frogs and Neotropical harvestmen.

Dr. Shier received a B.S. degree in biopsychology from University of California, Santa Barbara. She received a M.S. degree in Biology with an emphasis in Ecology and Systematics from San Francisco State University. She received M.A. and Ph.D. degrees in Animal Behavior with an emphasis in Wildlife Conservation from University of California, Davis.

Selected Publications

Shier, D.M. and Owings, D.H., "Effects of Social Learning on Predator Training and Post-Release Survival in Juvenile Black-Tailed Prairie Dogs (Cynomys ludovicianus)", Animal Behavior, 73 : 567-577 (2007) .

Shier, D.M. and Randall, J.A., "Use of different signaling modalities to communicate status by dominant and subordinate Heermann's kangaroo rats (Dipodomys heermanni)", Behavioral Ecology and Sociobiology, 61 : 1023-1032 (2007) .

Shier, D.M., "Family Support Increases the Success of Translocated Prairie Dogs", Conservation Biology, 20 (6): 1780-1790 (2006) .

Shier, D.M. and Owings, D.H., "Effects of predator training on behavior and post-release survival of captive prairie dogs (Cynomys ludovicianus)", Biological Conservation, 132 : 126-135 (2006) .

Shier, D.M. and Randall, J.A., "Spacing as a Predictor of Social Organization in Kangaroo Rats (Dipodomys heermanni arenae),", Journal of Mammalogy, 85 (5): 1002-1008 (2004) .

Shier, D.M., "For Crying Out Loud: Dangers and Opportunities of Communicating in the Public Domain", Journal of Comparative Psychology, 116 (2): 194-196 (2002) .

Randall, J.A., Rogovin, K.A. & Shier, D.M., "Footdrumming as anti-predator behavior in a social gerbil, Rhobomys opimus", Behavioral Ecology and Sociobiology, 48 (2): 110-118 (2000) .

Shier, D.M. and Yoerg, S.I., "What Footdrumming Signals in Kangaroo Rats (Dipodomys heermanni)", Journal of Comparative Psychology, 113 (1): 66-73 (1999) .

Yoerg, S.I. and Shier, D.M., "Maternal Presence and Rearing Condition Affect Responses to a Live Predator in Kangaroo Rats (Dipodomys heermanni arenae)", Journal of Comparative Psychology, 111 (4): 362-369 (1997) .