Department of Biological Sciences

Christine Maher Ph.D.

Professor of Biology
Chris Maher

Office Location

201 Science

Phone

207.780.4612

Academic Degrees

  • Ph.D., Animal Behavior, University of California, Davis, 1992
  • M.S., Zoology, University of Idaho, 1986
  • B.S., Zoology, Miami University, 1984

Profile

Dr. Maher joined the Biology Department at USM in 1997 after holding a faculty appointment for 5 years at Montana State University - Billings. She is a behavioral ecologist who studies variation in social behavior in mammals. Since 1998, she has conducted a long term behavioral study of woodchucks in southern Maine.

Dr. Maher regularly teaches the second semester course, which focuses on organismal biology (BIO 107), in the introductory sequence, and she also teaches Vertebrate Zoology (BIO 353) and Animal Behavior (BIO 405/505, 406/506).

Currently, Dr. Maher also serves as Associate Dean in the College of Science, Technology, and Health. When she's not teaching, doing fieldwork, or carrying out administrative duties, she's probably running on the roads or trails around Portland.

Research Interests

My research interests lie in the field of behavioral ecology and, more specifically, mammalian social behavior and social organization, in which I adopt a field-oriented approach to my research. For many years, I have examined the role that ecological conditions (e.g., food resources) play in shaping the behavior patterns of animals and, in turn, a population's spatial organization.

In 1998, I began working with woodchucks, animals whose relatives are much more social than they are. Little research has been done on these animals since the 1960s and late 1980s, so a great deal remains to be learned. I am interested in the evolution of social behavior in mammals, and these animals can be used to test various ideas about why other marmot species are more social.

Recent Publications

Honeywell, A.F. and Maher, C. R. In press. Intensity, rate, and outcome of agonistic interactions in harbor seals (Phoca vitulina) in relation to density on haul-out ledges. Journal of Mammalogy.

Maher, C. R. and Burger, J. R. 2016. Diversity of social behavior in caviomorph rodents. Pp. 28-58 in: Sociobiology of caviomorph rodents: an integrative review (L. Ebensperger and L. Hayes, eds.). Wiley-Blackwell.

Zervanos, S. M., Maher, C. R., and Florant, G. L. 2014. Effect of body mass on hibernation strategies of woodchucks (Marmota monax). Integrative and Comparative Biology. doi: 10.1093/icb/ict100

McKay, J.L. and Maher, C.R. 2012. Relationship between blood mercury levels and components of male song in Nelson’s Sparrows (Ammodramus nelsoni). Ecotoxicology. 21:2391-2397.

Aschemeier, L.M. and Maher, C.R. 2011. Eavesdropping of woodchucks (Marmota monax) and eastern chipmunks (Tamias striatus) on heterospecific alarm calls. Journal of Mammalogy. 92: 493-499.

Maher, C.R. and Burger, J.R. 2011. Intraspecific variation in space use, group size and mating systems of caviomorph rodents. Journal of Mammalogy 92: 54-64.