Nathan Morehouse

Nathan Isaiah Morehouse , Ph.D. Biology

Assoc Professor

Associate Professor

Rieveschl Hall


A&S Biological Sciences - 0006

Professional Summary

SBBE, visual and behavioral ecology of butterflies and jumping spiders, coevolutionary dynamics of reproductive traits, nutritional ecology, life history evolution, sexual selection theory, art-science collaborations,


Ph.D. Biology: Arizona State University Tempe, AZ, 2009

B.S. Biological Sciences: Cornell University Ithaca, NY, 2000

Research and Practice Interests

Reproduction is a social interface that intertwines the fates of males and females. I study the traits important to this evolutionary interface, from elaborate courtship displays and strong mate preferences to post-copulatory interactions between male and female reproductive proteins. I am interested in understanding 1) the co-evolutionary dynamics that generate diversity in reproductive traits, 2) how natural and sexual selection interact to produce different male and female phenotypes, and 3) how trait expression is shaped by the life histories of individuals.

To understand these fundamental issues, I study butterflies and jumping spiders. This choice is motivated by a lifelong fascination with the lives of these tiny animals, but also supported by their exuberant diversity and experimental tractability. My research group uses techniques from visual ecology, psychophysics, behavioral ecology, evolutionary genetics, nutritional ecology, phylogenetics, and the “omics”. We strive to understand the big picture by focusing on the details. Our goal is to uncover the evolution of underlying mechanisms.

Communicating our results to the public is also an essential part of our scientific practice. We support scientific curiosity and literacy in our local communities through collaborations with local schools, informal educational partners, and via social media. I am particularly interested in art-science collaborations and the novel insights they can provide into the human experience.
Current projects in the lab include:
1) Co-evolution of complex male displays and female visual attention in Habronattus jumping spiders
2) The causes and consequences of repeated evolution of jumping spider color vision
3) Interactions between color vision and depth perception in jumping spider visual ecology
4) Antagonistic and cooperative co-evolution between male and female reproductive proteins in pierid butterflies
5) Pre- and post-copulatory reproductive isolation during incipient speciation in the butterfly Pieris rapae
6) Nutritional ecology and evolution of the life history architecture of P. rapae
More information about these projects and other Morehouse Lab ventures can be found at

Positions and Work Experience

09-2011 -12-2016 Assistant Professor, Department of Biological Sciences, University of Pittsburgh, Pittsburgh, PA

06-2009 -06-2011 EU Marie Curie International Incoming Postdoctoral Fellow, Institut de Recherche sur la Biologie de l’Insecte, Université de Tours, Tours, France

08-2006 -05-2007 Faculty Associate, Center for Research on Education in Science, Mathematics, Engineering and Technology, Arizona State University, Tempe, AZ

01-2017 -08-2019 Assistant Professor, Department of Biological Sciences, University of Cincinnati, Cincinnati, OH

08-2019 - Associate Professor, Department of Biological Sciences, University of Cincinnati, Cincinnati, OH

Research Support

Grant: #IOS-1723948 Investigators:Morehouse, Nathan 01-01-2017 -04-30-2019 National Science Foundation Playing to the Visual Field: Female Gaze, Retinal Specializations, and the Evolution of Complex Male Courtship Displays in Habronattus Jumping Spiders (TRANSFER of NSF award 1557549) Role:PI $580,896.00 Active Level:Federal

Grant: #URS Morehouse New Faculty Development Award – 2017/18 Investigators:Morehouse, Nathan 06-01-2018 -06-30-2019 UC's Research Support URS Morehouse New Faculty Development Award – 2017/18 Role:PI $2,500.00 Active Level:Internal UC

Grant: #IOS-1831767 Investigators:Morehouse, Nathan 09-15-2018 -08-31-2023 National Science Foundation Dimensions: Collaborative Research: Repeated Evolution of Color Vision in Jumping Spiders: An Integrated Approach to Understanding Diversification of Visual Systems and Signals Role:PI $1,028,734.00 Awarded Level:Federal

Grant: #2010768 Investigators:Morehouse, Nathan 01-01-2020 -12-31-2021 National Science Foundation NSF workshop/symposium proposal - SICB 2020/2021 Role:PI $89,702.00 Awarded Level:Federal

Grant: #75D30122P13717 Investigators:Morehouse, Nathan 04-29-2022 -06-30-2022 National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health NIOSH - Institute for Research in Sensing (IRiS) External Partnership $10K Role:PI 10000.00 Hold Level:Federal

Investigators:Morehouse, Nathan 12-01-2021 -11-30-2026 Kroger Company KROGER - Institute for Research in Sensing (IRiS) External Partnership $10K Role:PI 10000.00 Hold Level:Industry

Investigators:Morehouse, Nathan 05-01-2022 -04-30-2023 Environmental Protection Agency IRiS $12k Membership - EPA Role:PI 0.00 Hold Level:Federal

Grant: #DGE-2224857 Investigators:Bates, Littisha; Crowley, Brooke; Jacquart, Melissa; Morehouse, Nathan; Potochnik, Angela; Trott, Carlie 10-01-2022 -09-30-2025 National Science Foundation NSF IGE Engaging Science: Transforming Graduate Education through Public Engagement with Science Role:Collaborator 499999.00 Awarded Level:Federal

Grant: #75D30122P14517 Investigators:Morehouse, Nathan 07-13-2022 -06-12-2023 Centers for Disease Control and Prevention NIOSH - Institute for Research in Sensing (IRiS) External Partnership $14K - (2022-2023) 8/1/22 - 4/30/23 Role:PI 14000.00 Awarded Level:Federal

Grant: #IRIS Membership Agreement Investigators:Morehouse, Nathan 08-01-2022 -04-30-2023 Clovernook Center for the Blind and Visually Impaired CLOVERNOOK - Institute for Research in Sensing (IRiS) External Partnership $14K - 2023 Role:PI 0.00 Active Level:Non Profit

Investigators:Morehouse, Nathan 08-01-2022 -04-30-2023 Kroger Company KROGER - Institute for Research in Sensing (IRiS) External Partnership $10K - (8/1/22 - 4/30/23) Role:PI 10000.00 Hold Level:Industry

Grant: #68HE0B23P0251 Investigators:Morehouse, Nathan 03-07-2023 -04-30-2024 Environmental Protection Agency EPA - Institute for Research in Sensing (IRiS) External Partnership $14K - 2023 Role:PI 14000.00 Awarded Level:Federal

Investigators:Morehouse, Nathan; Tang, Ming; White, Ryan 08-01-2023 -05-31-2024 Procter & Gamble Digital Accelerator at UC P&G Digital Accelerator at UC: IRIS Institute for Research in Sensing Role:Collaborator 16000.00 Hold Level:Industry


Peer Reviewed Publications

Morehouse, N.I., Buschbeck, E.K., Zurek, D.B., Steck, M., and Porter, M.L. (2017. ) Molecular evolution of spider vision: New opportunities, familiar players .Biological Bulletin, ,

Meslin, C., Cherwin, T.S., Plakke, M.S., Small, B.S., Goetz, B.J., Morehouse, N.I., and Clark, N.L. (2017. ) Structural complexity and molecular heterogeneity of a butterfly ejaculate reflect a complex history of selection .Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United State of America, , 114 (27 ) ,E5406-E5413

Echeverri, S.A., Morehouse, N.I., and Zurek, D.B. (2017. ) Control of signaling alignment during the dynamic courtship display of a jumping spider .Behavioral Ecology, ,

Limeri, L. B.; Morehouse, N. I. (2016. ) The evolutionary history of the "alba' polymorphism in the butterfly subfamily Coliadinae (Lepidoptera: Pieridae) .Biological Journal of the Linnean Society, , 117 (4 ) ,716-724

Taylor, L. A.; Amin, Z.; Maier, E. B.; Byrne, K. J.; Morehouse, N. I. (2016. ) Flexible color learning in an invertebrate predator: Habronattus jumping spiders can learn to prefer or avoid red during foraging .Behavioral Ecology, , 27 (2 ) ,520-529

Plakke, M. S.; Deutsch, A. B.; Meslin, C.; Clark, N. L.; Morehouse, N. I. (2015. ) Dynamic digestive physiology of a female reproductive organ in a polyandrous butterfly .Journal of Experimental Biology, , 218 (10 ) ,1548-1555

Meslin, C.; Plakke, M. S.; Deutsch, A. B.; Small, B. S.; Morehouse, N. I.; Clark, N. L. (2015. ) Digestive organ in the female reproductive tract borrows genes from multiple organ systems to adopt critical functions .Molecular Biology and Evolution, , 32 (6 ) ,1567-1580

Zurek, D. B.; Cronin, T. W.; Taylor, L. A.; Byrne, K.; Sullivan, M.; Morehouse, N. I. (2015. ) Spectral filtering enables trichromatic vision in colorful jumping spiders .Current Biology, , 25 (10 ) ,R403-R404

Snell-Rood, E.; Cothran, R.; Espeset, A.; Jeyasingh, P.; Hobbie, S.; Morehouse, N. I. (2015. ) Life history evolution in the anthropocene: Effects of increasing nutrients on traits and tradeoffs .Evolutionary Applications, , 8 ,635-649

Morehouse, N. I. (2014. ) Condition-dependent ornaments, life histories, and the evolving architecture of resource-use .Integrative and Comparative Biology, , 54 (4 ) ,591-600

Ligon, R. A.; Hicks, M. R.; Dolezal, A. G.; Butler, M. W.; Morehouse, N. I.; Ganesh, T. G. (2014. ) Using ants, animal behavior, and the learning cycle to investigate scientific processes .American Biology Teacher, , 76 (8 ) ,525-534

Limeri, L. B.; Morehouse, N. I. (2014. ) Sensory limitations and the maintenance of colour polymorphisms: viewing the 'alba' female polymorphism through the visual system of male Colias butterflies .Functional Ecology, , 28 (5 ) ,1197-1207

Taylor, L. A.; Maier, E. B.; Byrne, K. J.; Amin, Z.; Morehouse, N. I. (2014. ) Colour use by tiny predators: Jumping spiders show colour biases during foraging .Animal Behaviour, , 90 (2 ) ,149-157

Hua, J.; Morehouse, N. I.; Relyea, R. (2013. ) Pesticide tolerance in amphibians: Induced tolerance in susceptible populations, constitutive tolerance in tolerant populations .Evolutionary Applications, , 6 (7 ) ,1028-1040

Morehouse, N. I.; Mandon, N.; Christides, J. P.; Body, M.; Bimbard, G.; Casas, J. (2013. ) Seasonal selection and resource dynamics in a seasonally polyphenic butterfly .Journal of Evolutionary Biology, , 26 (1 ) ,175-185

Van Gossum, H.; Bots, J.; Van Heusden, J.; Hammers, M.; Huyghe, K.; Morehouse, N. I. (2011. ) Reflectance spectra and mating patterns support intraspecific mimicry in the colour polymorphic damselfly Ischnura elegans .Evolutionary Ecology, , 25 (1 ) ,139-154

Meadows, M. G.; Morehouse, N. I.; Rutowski, R. L.; Douglas, J. M.; McGraw, K. J. (2011. ) Quantifying iridescent coloration in animals: A method for improving repeatability .Behavioral Ecology and Sociobiology, , 65 (6 ) ,1317-1327

Morehouse, N. I.; Nakazawa, T.; Booher, C. M.; Jeyasingh, P. D.; Hall, M. D. (2010. ) Sex in a material world: Why the study of sexual reproduction and sex-specific traits should become more nutritionally-explicit .Oikos, , 119 (5 ) ,766-778

Morehouse, N. I.; Rutowski, R. L. (2010. ) In the eyes of the beholders: Female choice and avian predation risk associated with an exaggerated male butterfly color .American Naturalist, , 176 (6 ) ,768-784

Morehouse, N. I.; Rutowski, R. L. (2010. ) Developmental responses to variable diet composition in a butterfly: the role of nitrogen, carbohydrates and genotype .Oikos, , 119 (4 ) ,636-645

Lindstedt, C.; Morehouse, N. I.; Pakkanen, H.; Casas, J.; Christides, J. P.; Kemppainen, K.; Lindstrom, L.; Mappes, J. (2010. ) Characterizing the pigment composition of a variable warning signal of Parasemia plantaginis larvae .Functional Ecology, , 24 (4 ) ,759-766

Shawkey, M. D.; Morehouse, N. I.; Vukusic, P. (2009. ) A protean palette: colour materials and mixing in birds and butterflies .Journal of the Royal Society Interface, , 6 (1578 ) ,S221-S231

Morehouse, N. I.; Rutowski, R. L. (2009. ) Comment on “Floral iridescence, produced by diffraction optics, acts as a cue for animal pollinators” .Science, , 325 ,1072-d

Meadows, M. G.; Butler, M. W.; Morehouse, N. I.; Taylor, L. A.; Toomey, M. B.; McGraw, K. J.; Rutowski, R. L. (2009. ) Iridescence: Views from many angles .Journal of the Royal Society Interface, , 6 ,S107-S113

McGraw, K. J.; Toomey, M. B.; Nolan, P. M.; Morehouse, N. I.; Massaro, M.; Jouventin, P. (2007. ) A description of unique fluorescent yellow pigments in penguin feathers .Pigment Cell Research, , 20 ,301-304

Rutowski, R. L.; Macedonia, J. M.; Merry, J. W.; Morehouse, N. I.; Yturralde, K.; Taylor-Taft, L.; Gaalema, D.; Kemp, D. J.; Papke, R. S. (2007. ) Iridescent ultraviolet signal in the orange sulphur butterfly (Colias eurytheme): Spatial, temporal and spectral properties .Biological Journal of the Linnean Society, , 90 (2 ) ,349-364

Morehouse, N. I.; Vukusic, P.; Rutowski, R. (2007. ) Pterin pigment granules are responsible for both broadband light scattering and wavelength selective absorption in the wing scales of pierid butterflies .Proceedings of the Royal Society B Biological Sciences, , 274 (1608 ) ,359-366

Merry, J. W.; Morehouse, N. I.; Yturralde, K.; Rutowski, R. L. (2006. ) The eyes of a patrolling butterfly: Visual field and eye structure in the Orange Sulphur, Colias eurytheme (Lepidoptera, Pieridae) .Journal of Insect Physiology, , 52 (3 ) ,240-248

Rutowski, R. L.; Macedonia, J. M.; Morehouse, N. I.; Taylor-Taft, L. (2005. ) Pterin pigments amplify iridescent ultraviolet signal in males of the orange sulphur butterfly, Colias eurytheme .Proceedings of the Royal Society B Biological Sciences, , 272 (1578 ) ,2329-2335

Nallu, S., Hill, J., Don, K., Sahagun, C., Zhang, W., Meslin, C., Snell-Rood, E., Clark, N.L., Morehouse, N.I., Bergelson, J., Wheat, C.W., and Kronforst, M.R. (2018. ) The molecular genetic basis of herbivory between butterflies and their host-plants.Nature Ecology & Evolution, , 2 ,1418-1427 More Information

Sandre, S-L., Kaart, T., Morehouse, N.I., Tammaru, T. (2018. ) Weak and inconsistent associations between melanic darkness and fitness related traits in an insect.Journal of Evolutionary Biology, , 31 (12 ) ,1959-1968 More Information

McQueen, E.W. and Morehouse, N.I. (2018. ) Rapid divergence of pheromone profiles between subspecies of the butterfly Pieris rapae.Journal of Insect Science, , 18 (2 ) ,33 More Information

Hill, J.A., Rastas, P., Hornett, E.A., Neethiraj, R., Clark, N., Morehouse, N.I., de la Paz Celorio-Mancera, M., Cols, J.C., Dircksen, H., Meslin, C., Keehnen, N., Pruisscher, P., Sikkink, K., Vives, M., Vogel, H., Wiklund, C., Woronik, A., Boggs, C., Nylin, S., Wheat, C. (2019. ) Unprecedented reorganization of holocentric chromosomes provides insights into the enigma of lepidopteran chromosome evolution.Science Advances, , 5 (6 ) ,eaau3648 More Information

Goté, J.T.*, Butler, P.M., Zurek, D.B., Buschbeck, E.K., and Morehouse, N.I. (2019. ) Growing tiny eyes: How juvenile jumping spiders retain high visual performance in the face of size limitations and developmental constraints.Vision Research, , 160 ,24-36 More Information

Book Chapter

Morehouse, N.I. and Outomuro, D. (2019 ) Visual signals using incident light. Encyclopedia of Animal Behavior .(pp. 507).Academic Press