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Faculty Profile

Diane WiernaszDiane Wiernasz

Associate Professor
Department of Biology and Biochemistry
Research Division:
Ecology and Evolution (Primary)

Office: Science & Research 2, 321E
Contact: dwiernasz@uh.edu - (713) 743-2677

Education: Ph.D., Princeton University

Website 2

Dr. Wiernasz studies how selection shapes phenotypic variation in functionally complex traits.  Her research addresses the role of sexual selection in generating adaptive evolution, patterns of resource allocation between male and female offspring, and species formation through divergent female choice. Her work combines field and laboratory experiments that employ a variety of ecological, genetic and behavioral approaches.  

With Dr. Blaine Cole, she is conducting a long-term study of population biology in the harvester ant, Pogonomyrmex occidentalis, in western Colorado.  A major focus of this work is how local population dynamic processes (reproduction, dispersal, and post-settlement competition) generate large-scale patterns.  A second emphasis is the relative importance of multiple mating for colony lifetime reproductive success.

  • DC Wiernasz, BJ Cole, and BA Cole. 2014. Maternal and paternal influences on mating frequency in harvester ants. Animal Behaviour 97, 87-94.
  • DC Wiernasz, BA Cole, BJ Cole. 2014. Defending the nest: variation in the alarm aggression response and nest mound damage in the harvester ant Pogonomyrmex occidentalis. Insectes sociaux 61 (3), 273-279.
  • D Lubertazzi, BJ Cole, DC Wiernasz. 2013. Competitive advantages of earlier onset of foraging in Pogonomyrmex occidentalis (Hymenoptera: Formicidae). Annals of the Entomological Society of America 106 (1), 72-78.
  • P Abbot, J Abe, J Alcock, S Alizon, JAC Alpedrinha, M Andersson, ... 2011. Inclusive fitness theory and eusociality. Nature 471 (7339), E1-E4.
  • Blaine J. Cole, Adrian A. Smith, Zachary J. Huber, Diane C. Wiernasz. 2010. The structure of foraging activity in colonies of the harvester ant, Pogonomyrmex occidentalis. Behavioral Ecology 21(2): 337-342.
  • Diane C. Wiernasz and Blaine J. Cole. 2010. Patriline shifting leads to apparent genetic caste determination in harvester ants. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, U.S.A.,107(29): 12958-12962.
  • Diane C. Wiernasz and Blaine J. Cole. 2009. Dioecy and the evolution of sex ratios in ants. Proceedings of the Royal Society, B. 209:2125-2132.
  • Diane C. Wiernasz, Jessica Hines, Dara G. Parker, Blaine J. Cole. 2008. Mating for variety increases foraging activity in the harvester ant, Pogonomyrmex occidentalis. Molecular Ecology 17:1137-1144.
  • D.C. Wiernasz, C. Perroni and Cole, B.J. 2004. Polyandry and fitness in the western harvester ant Pogonomyrmex occidentalis. Molecular Ecology 13: 1601-1606.
  • D.C. Wiernasz and B.J. Cole 2003. Queen size mediates queen survival and colony fitness in harvester ants. Evolution 57 (9): 2179-2183.
  • Cole, B.J. and D.C. Wiernasz. 2002. Recruitment limitation and population density in the harvester ant, Pogonomyrmex occidentalis. Ecology 83 (5):1433-1442.
  • Billick, I., D.C. Wiernasz and B.J. Cole. 2001. Recruitment in the harvester ant, pogonomyrmex occidentalis: effects of experimental removal. Oecologia 129: (2):228-233.
  • Wiernasz, D.C., A.K. Sater, A.J. Abell, and B.J. Cole. 2001. Male size, sperm transfer, and colony fitness in the western harvester ant, Pogonomyrmex occidentalis. Evolution 55:324-329.