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Biological Sciences

Dr. Rick Essner

Portrait of Dr. Richard EssnerProfessor

Ph.D. Ohio University, 2003

Office: SW 1115
Research Lab: SW 0220
Phone: (618) 650-2338

Courses Taught: Freshman Seminar in Sustainability (BIOL 111-FS), Human Biology (BIOL 140), Human Anatomy and Physiology (BIOL 240A and 240B), Ornithology (BIOL 487), Mammalogy (BIOL 488), Comparative Vertebrate Anatomy (BIOL 489), Wildlife Management (BIOL 460), Vertebrate Natural History (BIOL 490), Travel Study in Biology (BIOL 490/590), Wildlife and Vegetation Techniques (BIOL 490/590), Topics in Organismal Biology (BIOL 596).

Research Interests: My research interests are in vertebrate functional and ecological morphology, especially the evolution of locomotor novelty. I combine the traditional tools of functional morphology (e.g., high-speed video, force plates, and electromyography) with techniques from behavioral, ecological, and physiological research to quantify the locomotor form-function complex.  These suites of characters are then examined in light of the comparative method to test a priori phylogenetic hypotheses regarding the evolution of locomotor novelty. In addition, I use biomechanics as a tool for formulating and testing causal links across multiple levels of analysis.  I am currently studying locomotion in frogs with ancestral (leiopelmatid) and derived (lalagobatrachian) morphological and behavioral features.  I am also interested in wildlife and conservation biology and am engaged in research involving habitat modeling in vertebrates.

Research Opportunities: Students interested in doing research in functional/ecological morphology or wildlife and conservation biology should contact me.

Selected Publications

Reilly, S. M., R. L. Essner, Jr., S. Wren, L. Easton, and P. J. Bishop. 2015. Movement patterns in leiopelmatid frogs: insight into the locomotor repertoire of the earliest frogs.  Behavioural Processes.  In Press.

Reilly, S. M., S. J. Montuelle, A. Schmidt, E. Naylor, M. E. Jorgensen, L. G. Halsey, and R. L. Essner, Jr. 2015. Conquering the world in leaps and bounds: hopping locomotion in toads is actually bounding. Functional Ecology 29(10):1308-1316.

Essner, Jr., R. L. Patel, R., and Reilly, S. M. 2015.  Ontogeny of body shape and diet in Freshwater Drum (Aplodinotus grunniens).  Transactions of the Illinois State Academy of Science 107:27-30.

Essner, Jr., R. L., M. E. Jorgensen, B. W. Ringer, S. J. Wright, and S. M. Reilly. 2014.  An Improved Husbandry Setup for Cold-water Amphibians.  Bulletin of the Chicago Herpetological Society 49(2):24-27.

Wood, T., R. L. Essner, Jr., and P. R. Minchin. 2013. Effects of Prescribed Burning on Grassland Avifauna at Riverlands Migratory Bird Sanctuary. Polymath 3(1):19-38.

Essner, R. L., Jr., Z. R. French, L. M. Richter, and P. R. Minchin. 2012. Bohm Woods and the SIUE Nature Preserve: Valuable Conservation Assets for Southwestern Illinois. Meadowlark 21:2-5.

Essner, R. L., Jr., M. E. Jorgensen, C. E. Corbin, J. H. Robins, D. J. Suffian, and N. A. Todt. 2012. A technique for field maintenance and transport of cold-water amphibians. Herpetological Review 43(2):247-249.

Essner, R. L., Jr., D. J. Suffian, P. J. Bishop, and S. M. Reilly. 2010. Landing in basal frogs: Evidence of saltational patterns in the evolution of anuran locomotion. Naturwissenschaften 97(10):935-939.

See my Google Scholar Profile for a complete list of publications.

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