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Thomas Dowling

Thomas Dowling

Emeritus Professor, School of Life Sciences, College of Liberal Arts and Sciences


School of Life Sciences
Arizona State University
PO Box 874501
Tempe, AZ 85287-4501


  • Affiliate Global Futures Scholar, Julie Ann Wrigley Global Futures Laboratory
  • Emeritus Professor, School of Life Sciences, College of Liberal Arts and Sciences


Thomas Dowling uses a variety of markers (morphology, allozymes, sequence and restriction endonuclease analysis of mitochondrial DNA [mtDNA]) to examine the processes responsible for the origin and maintenance of organismal diversity. He has directed his attention to the evolution of cypriniform fishes, one of the most diverse orders of vertebrates in North America. His studies are specifically focused on the process of speciation and the role of hybridization in evolution. This is being examined at three levels: 1) factors promoting population subdivision and producing incipient species, 2) the evolution of reproductive isolation, and 3) role of biogeography in the evolution of species. Examination of evolutionary pattern and process at these three levels of organization provides a complete picture of speciation in cypriniform fishes.

Dowling also applies these methods to the study of threatened and endangered fishes of the American Southwest. Quantification of levels of genetic variation within and between populations and species is crucial for preservation and management of this shrinking resource.


  • PhD, Biology, Wayne State University, 1984
  • BS, Zoology, University of Michigan, 1980


Journal Articles


Carson, E. W., J. J. Elser and T. E. Dowling. 2008. Importance of exogenous selection in a fish hybrid zone: Insights from reciprocal transplant experiments. Copiea 2008(4):794-800. DOI: 10.1643/CP-06-292. (link )


Elser, J. J., J. H. Schampel, M. Kyle, J. Watts, E. W. Carson, T. E. Dowling, C. Tang and P. D. Roopnarine. 2005. Response of grazing snails to phosphorus enrichment of modern stromatolitic microbial communities. Freshwater Biology 50(11):1826-1835. DOI: 10.1111/j.1365-2427.2005.01453.x. (link )


Gorokhova, E., T. E. Dowling, L. J. Weider, T. J. Crease and J. J. Elser. 2002. Functional and ecological significance of rDNA intergenic spacer variation in a clonal organism under divergent selection for production rate. Proceedings of the Royal Society B 269(1507): 2373–2379. DOI: 10.1098/rspb.2002.2145. (link )


Elser, J. J., J. O'Brien, D. R. Dobberfuhl and T. E. Dowling. 2000. The evolution of ecosystem processes:Growth rate and elemental stoichiometry of a key herbivore in temperate and arctic habitats. Journal of Evolutionary Biology 13(5):845-853. DOI: 10.1046/j.1420-9101.2000.00215.x. (link )


DeMarais, B. D. and T. E. Dowling. 1993. Introgressive hybridization and evolution of Colorado River Basin gila (teleostei: Cyprinidae). Proc. Desert Fishes Counc. 67.

Dowling, T. E. and B. D. DeMarais. 1993. Evolutionary significance of introgressive hybridization in cyprinid fishes. Nature 362(6419):444-446. DOI: 10.1038/362444a0. (link )