Faculty Biography

John Baker

John A. Baker

Associate Research Professor
Research Fellow-George Perkins Marsh Institute
Department of Biology
Clark University
15 Maywood St.
Worcester, MA 01610-1477

Office: #252; Lab: #253
Phone: 508-793-7609
Email: jbaker@clarku.edu

Curriculum Vitae
Research Lab Website


B.S. Northern Illinois University
M.S. University of Southern Mississippi
Ph.D. University of Arkansas

Professional Background and Research Interests

My research interests focus on the life history and ecology of fishes. My early studies were on freshwater stream fishes of the southeastern U.S., but over the past 20+ years they have centered on the post-glacial adaptive radiation of the threespine stickleback, which offers particularly unique insights. Life-history traits such as offspring size, fecundity, age at reproduction, and patterns of senescence are features especially closely linked to fitness, and freshwater fishes, and the stickleback radiation in particular, provide outstanding opportunities to understand how life histories evolve. In addition, this system is an outstanding one for disentangling the roles of plasticity and standing genetic variation in shaping evolutionary trajectories. Besides the threespine stickleback, my life-history investigations include two related species, the fourspine and ninespine stickleback. My  threespine stickleback interests also include the evolution of anti-predator armoring and morphological traits. Study sites include south-central Alaska, southern British Columbia, and Newfoundland. Our 25+ year set of research collections includes nearly 600,000 specimens, making it an incredibly valuable archive for investigating patterns of change through an extended period of rapid natural and human-induced environmental change.

My interests in fishes have always included an applied component, developed during 12 years of work at the Waterways Experiment Station (Vicksburg MS, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers), and later as an independent consultant. My applied has research concentrated on assessment of the effects of river regulatory practices (water diversions, dams, levees, channel alignment, etc.) on river ecosystems. Additional research interests have included the ecology of riparian habitats, wetlands, impoundments and estuaries. I currently have students working on biotic inventories for streams and riparian areas within several north-central Massachusetts preserves. All of these interests are reflected in my appointment as a Research Fellow at the George Perkins Marsh Institute.

My teaching at Clark has reflected both sets of interests, as I have taught courses including Ecological Systems, Applied Ecology, Introductory Biology, Biodiversity, Ecology, Conservation Biology, and Small-Scale Land Conservation.

Selected Publications:

Heins, D.C., D.M. Eidam and J.A. Baker.  2016.  Timing of infections in the threespine stickleback by Schistocephalus solidus in Alaska.  Journal of Parasitology, doi: 10.1645/14-675.

Reyes, M.L. and J.A. Baker.  2016. The consequences of diet limitation in juvenile threespine stickleback: growth, lipid storage and the phenomenon of compensatory growth.  Ecology of Freshwater Fish, doi: 10.1111.eff.12276.

Heins, D.C., H. Knoper and J.A. Baker.  2016.  Consumptive and non-consumptive effects of predation by introduced northern pike on life history traits in threespine stickleback.  Evolutionary Ecology Research (in press).

Reyes, M.L. and J.A. Baker.  2016. Variation in early-life compensatory growth, and its impacts on aerobic capacity in threespine stickleback (Gasterosteus aculeatus).  Evolutionary Ecology Research (in press).

Wund M.A., J.A. Baker, J.L. Golub and S.A. Foster.  2015. The evolution of antipredator behaviour following relaxed and reversed selection in Alaskan threespine stickleback fish. Animal Behaviour 106: 181-189.

Baker, J.A., M.A. Wund, D.C. Heins, R.W. King, M.L. Reyes and S.A. Foster. 2015. Life-history plasticity in female threespine stickleback. Heredity 115: 322-334.

Foster, S.A., M.A. Wund M.A. Graham, R.L. Earley, R. Gardiner, T. Kearns and J.A. Baker.  2015. Iterative development and the scope for plasticity: Contrasts among trait categories in an adaptive radiation.  Heredity 115: 335–348.

Foster, S.A., M.A. Wund and J.A. Baker.  2015. Evolutionary influences of plastic behavioral responses upon environmental challenges in an adaptive radiation.  Integrative and Comparative Biology 55: 406-417.

Heins, D.C. and J.A. Baker.  2014.  Fecundity compensation and fecundity reduction among populations of the three-spined stickleback infected by Schistocephalus solidus in Alaska.  Parasitology 141: 1088-1096.

Baker, J.A., K. Rasanen, J-S. Moore and A.P. Hendry.  2013.  Genetic and plastic contributions to trait divergence between parapatric habitats: female life-history traits in threespine stickleback within the Misty Lake System.  In:  A.P. Hendry and C.L. Peichel (eds.), Stickleback  Behaviour and Evolution: Contributions from the Seventh International Conference. Evolutionary Ecology Research 15: 473-487.

Karve, A.D., F. A. von Hippel and J.A. Baker.  2013.  Female life-history traits in a species pair of threespine stickleback in Mud Lake, Alaska.  In:  A.P. Hendry and C.L. Peichel (eds.), Stickleback Behaviour and Evolution: Contributions from the Seventh International Conference. Evolutionary Ecology Research 15: 171-187.

Baker, J.A., L.A. Ackein, D.C. Heins, R.W. King and S.A. Foster.  2013.  The implications of pelvic reduction in threespine stickleback for long-term persistence of populations.  In:  A.P. Hendry and C.L. Peichel (eds.), Stickleback Behaviour and Evolution: Contributions from the Seventh International Conference. Evolutionary Ecology Research 15:313-330.

Hughes, L.C., S.A. Foster and J.A. Baker.  2013.  Can ecotypic differences in male courtship behavior be explained by visual cues provided by female threespine stickleback? Evolutionary Ecology Research 15: 437-451.

Wund, M.A., S. Valena, S. Wood and J.A. Baker.  2012.  Ancestral plasticity and allometry in threespine stickleback fish reveal phenotypes associated with derived, freshwater ecotypes.  Biological Journal of the Linnean Society 105: 573-583.

Baker, J.A., D.C. Heins, R.W. King and S.A. Foster.  2011.  Rapid shifts in multiple life-history traits in a population of threespine stickleback.  Journal of Evolutionary Biology 24:863-870.

Heins, D.C. and J.A. Baker.  2011.  Do heavy burdens of Schistocephalus solidus plerocercoids in juvenile threespine sticklebacks result in a disaster? Journal of Parasitology 97:775-778.

Heins, D.C., J.A. Baker and D.M. Green.  2011.  Processes influencing the duration and decline of epizootics in Schistocephalus solidus.  Journal of Parasitology 97:371-376.

Heins, D.C. and J.A. Baker.  2010.  Castration of Female Ninespine Stickleback by the Pseudophyllidean Cestode Schistocephalus pungitii: Evolutionary Significance and Underlying Mechanism.  Journal of Parasitology 96:206-208.

Baker, J.A., J.E. Dewey and S.A. Foster. 2010. Variation in reproductive traits of female Fourspine Stickleback (Apeltes quadracus) in Nova Scotia, Canada.  Copeia 2010:437-442.

Heins, D.C., E.L. Birden and J.A. Baker.  2010.  Host mortality and variability in epizootics of Schistocephalus solidus infecting the threespine stickleback Gasterosteus aculeatus.  Parasitology 137:1681-1686.

Heins, D.C., J.A. Baker, M.A. Toups and E.L. Birden.  2010.  Evolutionary significance of fecundity reduction in threespine stickleback infected by the diphyllobothriidean cestode Schistocephalus solidus. Biological Journal of the Linnean Society 100: 835–846.

Baker, J.A., M.A. Wund, R.Y. Chock, L., Ackein, R. Elsemore and S.A. Foster.  2010.  Predation history and vulnerability: Conservation of the stickleback adaptive radiation. Biological Conservation 143(5): 1184-1192.

Wund, M.A., J.A. Baker, B. Clancy, J.L. Golub and S.A. Foster. 2008. A test of the 'flexible stem' model of evolution: ancestral plasticity, genetic accommodation, and morphological divergence in the threespine stickleback radiation. American Naturalist 172:449-462.

Baker, J.A., D.C. Heins, S.A. Foster and R.W. King.  2008. An overview of life-history variation in female threespine stickleback. Behaviour 145:579-602.

Foster, S.A., K.A. Shaw, K.L. Robert and J.A. Baker. 2008. Benthic, limnetic and oceanic threespine stickleback: Profiles of reproductive behavior.  Behaviour 145:485-508.
Heins, D.C. and J.A. Baker. 2008. The stickleback-Schistocephalus host-parasite system as a model for understanding the effect of a macroparasite on host reproduction. Behaviour 145:625-645.

Messler, A., M.A. Wund, J.A. Baker and S.A. Foster. 2007. The effects of relaxed and reversed selection by predators on the antipredator behavior of the threespine stickleback, Gasterosteus aculeatus. Ethology 113:953-963.

Baker, J.A., W.C. Cresko, D.C. Heins and S.A. Foster. 2005. Life-history differentiation of benthic and limnetic ecotypes in a polytypic population of threespine stickleback (Gasterosteus aculeatus). Evolutionary Ecology Research 7:121-131.

Research Grants:

2009 - Distribution of fish species of special concern within the Housatonic River system of western Massachusetts. Massachusetts Natural Heritage and Endangered Species Program. $17,000.

2005, and 2006 - Eastern Alliance in Science and Technology, Continuing Grants to Kathleen O'Brien (J.A.Baker Faculty Mentor). $3000 each.

2005: National science Foundation Animal Behavior Program (S.A. Foster P.I., JAB Co-PI). Ancestral Plasticity and Mating System Evolution in the Stickleback Radiation. Funding period January 1 2005- December 31, 2008. REU supplements 2005, 2006, 2007 $18,000 in total to date.