Eileen Hebets
Eileen Hebets
Associate Professor

Ph.D. University of Arizona, 2002
        (Ecology & Evolutionary Biology)
M.S. University of Arizona, 1998
        (Ecology & Evolutionary Biology)
M.S. University of Cincinnati, 1996
B.S. Albion College, 1994
Contact Information
325 Manter Hall


Research Interests

Complex Signal Evolution and Function/Plasticity of Female Mate Choice

My research program focuses on understanding the diversity associated with communication systems, with much of my current concentration on intra-specific communication relating to reproductive behavior. Understanding the evolution of animal signals is not a trivial task, as it requires detailed knowledge of not only the animals producing the signals (the signalers), but also of the environment through which the signals must travel and of the animals receiving the signals (the receivers). Acquiring the necessary details pertaining to the various steps in the communication process relies upon numerous techniques and approaches and requires integration of information across multiple levels of analysis. As such, my research is very integrative, spanning both ultimate and proximate factors influencing ultimate signal form. For example, my research incorporates field-based studies that examine selection pressures under natural conditions; laboratory-based behavioral assays in which I experimentally manipulate signalers, the signaling environment, and/or receivers to assess signal function; the use of genetic markers to examine population structure with respect to secondary sexual traits; phylogenetic methods and approaches to examine evolutionary trends in complex signal form and function; assays of ecdysteroids and biogenic amines to examine the relationships between circulating levels of neuromodulators and behavioral expression; and the use of neural techniques such as electrophysiology to examine the peripheral sensory system capabilities of receivers.

Research in my laboratory uses various arachnid groups to ask questions relating to the evolution and function of animal signals. I have worked mostly with wolf spiders and jumping spiders (Order Araneae), but have also focused on opilionids (Order Opiliones), amblypygids (Order Amblypygi), and solpugids (Order Solipugae). My research has been supported by numerous funding sources including most recently the Searle Scholars Program and the National Science Foundation.


 My current research efforts (not including the studies of my graduate students) encompass five main research programs. Information regarding each of these can be found on my personal webpage.







Peer Reviewed Publications since 2005


Fowler-Finn, K. D. and E. A. Hebets. 2011. The degree of response to increased predation risk corresponds to male secondary sexual traits. Behavioral Ecology 22: 268 – 275.

Fowler-Finn, K. D. and Hebets, E. A. 2011. More ornamented males exhibit increased predation risk and antipredator escapes, but not greater mortality. Ethology 117: 102 – 114.

Hebets, E.A. , J. A. Stafstrom, R. L. Rodriguez, and D. J. Wilgers. 2011. Enigmatic ornamentation relieves male reliance on courtship performance for mating success. Animal Behaviour 81: 963 – 972.

Hebets, E. A. and A. S. Rundus. 2011. Chemical Communication in a Multimodal Context. In: Chemical Communication in Crustaceans. (Ed by T. Breithaupt & M. Thiel), pp. 335 – 354. New York, New York: Springer. (Invited contribution)

Hebets, E. A. 2011 Current status and future directions of research in complex signaling. Current Zoology 57: I-V. (editorial for Special Issue on Complex Signaling)

Rundus, A. S., L. Sullivan-Beckers, D. Wilgers, and E. A. Hebets. 2011. Females are choosy in the dark: context-dependent reliance on courtship components and its impact on fitness. Evolution 65: 268-282. 

Wilgers, D. J. and E. A. Hebets. 2011. Complex courtship displays facilitate male reproductive success and plasticity in signaling across variable environments. Current Zoology 57: 175 – 186. (Special issue)

Willemart, R. H., R. D. Santer, A. J. Spence, and E. A. Hebets. 2011.A sticky situation: Solifugids (Arachnida, Solifugae) use adhesive organs on their pedipalps for prey capture. Journal of Ethology 29: 177 – 180.


Byers, J., E. A. Hebets, and J. Podos. 2010. Female mate choice based upon male motor performance. Animal Behavior 79: 771 – 778.

Rundus, A. S., R. D. Santer, and E. A. Hebets. 2010. Multimodal courtship efficacy of Schizocosa retrorsa wolf spiders: implications of an additional signal modality. Behavioral Ecology 21: 701 – 707.

Elias, D.O, Mason, A. C. and Hebets, E. A. 2010. A signal-substrate match in the substrate-borne component of a multimodal courtship display. Current Zoology 56: 370 – 378. (invited contribution)

Hebets, E.A. and Sullivan-Beckers, L. 2010. Mate Choice and Learning. In: Breed M.D. and Moore J., (eds.) Encyclopedia of Animal Behavior, volume 2, pp. 389 - 393 Oxford: Academic Press. (invited author)


Chelini, M. C., R. H. Willemart, and E. A. Hebets. 2009. Costs and benefits of freezing behaviour in the harvesman Eumesosoma roeweri (Arachnida, Opiliones). Behavioural Processes 82: 153 – 159.

Santer, R.D. and Hebets, E.A. 2009. Prey capture by the whip spider Phrynus marginemaculatus. Journal of Arachnology 37: 109 – 112.

Santer, R.D. and Hebets, E. A. 2009. Tactile learning of spatial landmarks in whip spiders (Arachnida, Amblypygi). Journal of Comparative physiology A 195: 393 – 399.

Wilgers, D.J., A. C. Nicholas, D. H. Reed, G. E. Stratton, and E. A. Hebets. 2009. Condition-dependent alternative mating tactics in a sexually cannibalistic wolf spider. Behavioral Ecology 20: 891 – 900.

Shamble, P.S., D. J. Wilgers, K. A. Swoboda, and E. A. Hebets. 2009. Courtship effort is a better predictor of mating success than ornamentation for male wolf spiders. Behavioral Ecology 20: 1242 - 1251.



Hebets, E.A., Elias, D.O., Mason, A.C., Miller, G.L., and Stratton, G.E. 2008. Substrate-dependent signaling success in the wolf spider Schizocosa retrorsa. Animal Behaviour 75: 605 – 615.  

Hebets, E.A., Wesson, J., and Shamble, P. 2008. Diet influences mate choice selectivity in adult female wolf spiders. Animal Behaviour 76: 355 – 363.

Hebets, E. A. 2008. Seismic signal dominance in the multimodal courtship display of the wolf spider Schizocosa stridulans Stratton 1991. Behavioral Ecology19: 1258 – 1266.

Santer, R. D. and Hebets, E.A. 2008. An agonistic signal received by an arthropod filiform hair alludes to the prevalence of near-field sound communication. Proceedings of the Royal Society B 275: 363 – 368 (Highlighted Article Online)



Framenau, V. W., E. A. Hebets. 2007. A review of leg ornamentation in male wolf spiders, with the description of a new species from Australia, Artoria schizocoides (Araneae, Lycosidae). Journal of Arachnology 35: 89 – 101.

Hebets, E.A. 2007. Early experience does not influence heterospecific recognition in the wolf spider Schizocosa uetzi. Journal of Arachnology 35: 1 – 10.

Hebets, E.A. and Vink, C. 2007. Experience leads to preference: Experienced females prefer brush-legged males in a population of syntopic wolf spiders. Behavioral Ecology 18: 1010-1020.

VanderSal, N. D. & Hebets, E. A. 2007. Cross-modal effects on learning: A seismic stimulus improves color discrimination in a jumping spider. Journal of Experimental Biology 210: 3689-3695.



Elias, D. O., Hebets, E. A., and Hoy, R. R. 2006. Female preference for signal complexity. Behavioral Ecology. 17: 765-771.

Elias, D.O., Lee, N., Hebets, E. A., and Mason, A. C. 2006. Seismic signal production in wolf spiders: Parallel versus serial multicomponent signals. Journal of Experimental Biology 209: 1079-1084. (cover photo)

Elias, D.O., Hebets, E. A., Hoy, R. R., Maddison, W. P., and Mason, A. C. 2006. Regional song differences in sky-island populations of the jumping spider Habronattus pugillis Griswold. Journal of Arachnology 34: 566-577.

Fowler-Finn, K. D. & E. A. Hebets. 2006. An examination of agonistic interactions in the whip spider Phyrnus marginemaculatus (Arachnida, Amblypyi) Journal of Arachnology 34: 62-76.

Hebets, E.A., Cuasay, K., and Rivlin, P.K. 2006. The role of visual ornamentation in female choice of a multimodal male courtship display. Ethology 112: 1062 – 1070.

Spence, A. J. & E. A. Hebets. 2006. Anatomy and physiology of giant fibers in the antenniform leg of the amblypygid Phrynus marginemaculatus. Journal of Arachnology 34: 545 – 556.



Elias, D. O., E. A. Hebets, A. C. Mason, and R. R. Hoy. 2005. Seismic signals are crucial for male mating success in a visual specialist jumping spider (Araneae: Salticidae). Animal Behaviour

Hebets, E. A. 2005. Attention-altering interactions among signals in multimodal wolf spider courtship displays. Behavioral Ecology 16: 75-82.

Hebets, E. A. and D. R. Papaj. 2005. Complex signal function: Developing a framework of testable hypotheses. Behavioral Ecology and Sociobiology 57: 197-214

Hebets, E.A. & W.P. Maddison. 2005. Xenophilic mating preferences among populations of the jumping spider Habronattus pugillis Griswold. Behavioral Ecology 16: 981-988.