Rebecca S. Burton
Rebecca S. Burton
Post-doctoral Fellow

Current Position and Address:
Assistant Professor
Dept. of Biology
Alverno College
Milwaukee, WI 53234

Information below is no longer current

Research interests:

I'm primarily interested in behavioral and evolutionary ecology. Specifically, I study ways in which animals cope with variable environments. I use immunological and other physiological tools in my research. Caching questions have been the focus of my graduate work. My doctoral research was on cache management in the eastern woodrat (Neotoma floridana). I examined winter fasting and adaptive weight loss. You can read the abstract if you're interested.

Taxonomically, I am a mammalogist with particular interest in rodents. I'm presently working on evolutionary tradeoffs between hibernation and caching. I am studying seasonal changes in body mass, metabolism, and immunocompetence of dusky-footed woodrats (N. fuscipes) and California ground squirrels (Spermophilus beecheyi).

My current study site is the Sedgwick Reserve . Sedgwick has chaparral, oak savannah, and serpentine habitats. I am also conducting a survey of the mammals of Sedgwick. In my spare time, I'm part of a team that is experimenting with management strategies to encourage native plants found on serpentine refuges to reinvade the alluvial soil, which is now covered with introduced grasses.

I have become more of a physiologist than I ever intended. I recently completed an experiment to examine the effect of immune challenge on hibernation in Turkish hamsters (Mesocricetus brandti). It appears that the hamsters spend more time in torpor if they are exposed to a novel antigen during the hibernation season. This mechanism may allow them to defend themselves against pathogens, which can't proliferate at low temperatures.


I have studied in Washington, Montana, and Kansas. I am primarily trained in behavior, ecology, and vertebrate biology, but I have had additional work in immunology and education. For more detail, you can check my c.v. page.


I have the privilege of working as a volunteer with the Los Marineros program. Students in this program learn about ecology in many ways, including designing and performing their own experiments. I work with Mrs. Hanson's 5th grade class at Cleveland School. I recently created an exercise to help them design their first experiment. I am also a volunteer for the "Science Online" program in which local students can ask scientists questions via email.

Other Interests:

At Kansas State, I enjoyed helping with prescribed fires and bison management at Konza Prairie Research Natural Area. Now I'm enjoying the beaches and mountains of the central California coast, where I can camp, bike, and boogie board. I coach the Santa Barbara Sirens women's rugby team. I like to ride and sail when the opportunity presents itself. I am also a voracious reader.

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(Last update: June 18, 1998 by Becky Burton)