Matthew E. Wolak
Department of Biological Sciences
Assistant Professor

Office: 306 Funchess Hall

Lab: 339 Funchess Hall

Address: 101 Life Sciences Bldg.
Auburn University, AL 36849

Phone: (334) 844-9242

Lab Phone: (334) 844-1655

Fax: (334) 844-1645



Ph.D. - University of California Riverside
B.Sc. - The College of William and Mary

Professional Employment
Postdoctoral Research Fellow – University of Aberdeen
2013 - 2017

Research and Teaching Interests

Ecology, evolution, and quantitative methods. The research group combines data collected on natural populations of organisms, laboratory rearing experiments, and computer simulations to study the way organisms interact with their environments and the genetic and non-genetic inheritance of characteristics across time and generations. In particular, we focus on how differences among individuals in they way they look, perform, or behave affect survival, mating success, and reproductive output to quantitatively predict population level changes within and between generations.

Selected Publications

  1. Caldwell MF, JE López-Pérez, DA Warner, ME Wolak (2023) Consistent nest site selection by turtles across habitats with varying levels of human disturbance. Diversity 15:275.

  2. Strader ME, ME Wolak (Co-First Author), OM Simon, & GE Hofmann (2022) Genetic variation underlies plastic responses to global change drivers in the purple sea urchin, Strongylocentrotus purpuratus. Proceedings of the Royal Society B 289: 20221249

  3. Kaufmann P, ME Wolak, A Husby, & E Immonen (2021) Rapid evolution of sexual size
    dimorphism facilitated by Y-linked genetic variance. Nature Ecology & Evolution 5:1394- 1402.

  4. Wolak ME, P Arcese, LF Keller, & JM Reid 2018. Sex-specific additive genetic variance and correlations for fitness in a song sparrow (Melospiza melodia) population subject to natural immigration and inbreeding. Evolution 72:2057-2075.

  5. Hendry AP, DJ Schoen, ME Wolak, & JM Reid 2018. The contemporary evolution of fitness. Annual Review of Ecology, Evolution, and Systematics 49:457-476.

  6. Germain RR, ME Wolak (Co-First Author), & JM Reid 2018. Individual repeatability and heritability of divorce in a wild population. Biology Letters 14:20180061.

  7. Wolak ME & JM Reid 2017. Accounting for genetic differences among unknown parents in microevolutionary studies: How to include genetic groups in quantitative genetic animal models. Journal of Animal Ecology 86:7-20.

  8. Wolak ME & JM Reid 2016. Is pairing with a relative heritable? Estimating female and male genetic contributions to the degree of biparental inbreeding in song sparrows (Melospiza melodia). American Naturalist 187:736-752.

  9. Careau V, ME Wolak, PA Carter, & T Garland Jr 2015. Evolution of the additive genetic variance-covariance matrix under continuous directional selection on a complex behavioural phenotype. Proceedings of the Royal Society of London B 282:20151119.

  10. Hoeck PEA, ME Wolak, RA Switzer, CM Kuehler, & AA Lieberman 2015. Effects of inbreeding and parental incubation on captive breeding success in Hawaiian crows. Biological Conservation 184:357-364.

  11. Wolak ME, DA Roff, & DJ Fairbairn 2015. Are we underestimating the genetic variances of dimorphic traits? Ecology and Evolution 5:590-597.

  12. Wolak ME & LF Keller 2014. Dominance genetic variance and inbreeding in natural populations. In Quantitative Genetics in the Wild, A Charmantier, LEB Kruuk, & D Garant eds. Oxford University Press, pp.104-127.

  13. Wolak ME 2012. nadiv: an R package to create relatedness matrices for estimating non-additive genetic variances in animal models. Methods in Ecology and Evolution 3:792-796.

  14. Wolak ME, DJ Fairbairn, & YP Paulsen 2012. Guidelines for Estimating Repeatability. Methods in Ecology and Evolution 3:129-137.

  15. Wolak ME, GW Gilchrist, VA Ruzicka, DM Nally, & RM Chambers 2010. A contemporary, sex-limited change in body size of an estuarine turtle in response to commercial fishing. Conservation Biology 24:1268-1277.

Google Scholar Page


Undergraduate Graduate
Principles of Ecology - BIOL3060

Evolutionary Ecology - BIOL7210
Evolutionary Biology - BIOL7200

Last updated: 04/28/2023