SWS: Dr. Micaela Szykman Gunther, Behavioral Ecologist (SCBI)

Dr. Gunther received her BA in Biology from Amherst College in 1993, and her PhD in Zoology and Ecology, and Evolutionary Biology and Behavior from Michigan State University in 2001.

She was a postdoctoral research Fellow at the Smithsonian's National Zoological Park, Conservation and Research Center, the Department of Reproductive Sciences from 2002-2005. She is currently an Associate Professor of Wildlife at Humboldt State University.

Micaela Szykman Gunther is an Associate Professor in the Department of Wildlife at Humboldt State University and has been a Research Associate of the Smithsonian Institution since 2002. She spent over three years living in Kenya investigating social (reproductive) behavior in a most unique species, the spotted hyena for her doctoral research. Dr. Gunther's research interests lie in the behavioral ecology of social carnivores. Within this broad area of interest, she has pursued questions addressing the hormone physiology underlying social behavior and reproductive success of individual members of social groups. This work led her to the Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute (SCBI, formerly the National Zoological Park's Conservation & Research Center) to learn skills in non-invasive hormone monitoring in their state-of-the-art Endocrine Research Laboratory. During her time at Smithsonian, Dr. Gunther initiated a field project in South Africa that utilized a multidisciplinary approach to study pack formation, interspecific competition, stress and fitness in reintroduced packs of African wild dogs. In collaboration with researchers in South Africa and colleagues at SCBI, this project integrated behavioral, spatial, genetic and hormonal data collected for the entire population of wild dogs living in the province of KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa. Her more recent line of research parallels the exciting wild dog studies in a local population of North American River Otters living around Humboldt Bay, California. In this population, she and her students are investigating population number and structure, movements, habitat and diet preferences, as well as environmental correlates of stress.

Additional information:

Dr. Gunther watches as curious wild dog pups sniff at research vehicle's tires. Image

A pack of wild dogs visits a water hole. Image

Tourists observe a pack of African wild dogs in Hluhluwe-iMfolozi Park, South Africa. Image

Dr. Gunther listens for activity in a pack of African wild dogs using radio telemetry.


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