Susan M. Hoffman

Associate Professor

246 Pearson Hall  (513) 529-3125

Biographical Information

The Hoffman lab studies the evolutionary genetics of mammals; we are interested in the relationship between genetic diversity and population viability, especially as it relates to mammal conservation. We are analyzing the levels of genetic diversity in endangered versus expanding populations, taking advantage of recent dramatic shifts in the distributions of small mammals in the Great Lakes region. As an apparent response to climate change, some small mammals from the central Midwest are expanding northward at an astonishing rate and replacing similar species to the north. We are interested in how the interactions between closely related species in this region can affect demographic and evolutionary processes such as inbreeding, real and effective population size, phenotypic plasticity, and population viability. We are using data from microsatellite and mitochondrial markers, landscape and vegetation analyses, morphometrics, and fieldwork to produce an integrated picture of small mammal population dynamics.

In collaboration with other laboratories, we have linked the overall pattern of small mammal movements in the region to warmer overwinter temperatures, but we still do not understand the proximate mechanisms by which one species replaces the other. We are currently focusing on the population genetics, morphology, and habitat specificity of woodland mice in Michigan, where a northern subspecies of deer mouse (Peromyscus maniculatus gracilis) is being replaced by the more southern white-footed mouse (Peromyscus leucopus noveboracensis). We are also collaborating with researchers at the University of Michigan, studying the effects of behavioral traits on how mice colonize new territories. We are interested in using the patterns we have observed in these model species to frame questions about other small terrestrial animals in the region, some of which are of conservation concern.

Courses Taught

Genetics (BIO 342)
Mammalogy (BIO 410)
Advanced Molecular Biology (BIO 605)


Walsh, S.E., W.E. Woods and S.M.G. Hoffman. (2016) Effects of range contraction and habitat fragmentation on genetic variation in the woodland deer mouse (Peromyscus maniculatus gracilis). American Midland Naturalist Vol. 176:2, p272-281. DOI:10.1674/0003-0031-176.2.272

Taylor, Z.S., P. Myers and S.M.G. Hoffman. (2015) Colonization of the Beaver Island Archipelago by deer mice (Peromyscus maniculatus gracilis): mtDNA evidence for multiple origins. Canadian Journal of Zoology: 93: 239–244. DOI:10.1139/cjz-2014-0234

Taylor, Z.S. and S.M.G. Hoffman. (2014) Landscape models for nuclear genetic diversity and population structure in white-footed mice (Peromyscus leucopus). Heredity 112: 588-595. doi:10.1038/hdy.2013.140. DOI:10.1038/hdy.2013.140

Taylor, Z.S. and S.M.G. Hoffman. (2012) Microsatellite genetic structure and cytonuclear discordance in naturally fragmented populations of deer mice (Peromyscus maniculatus). Journal of Heredity 103(1): 71-79. DOI:10.1093/jhered/esr100

Taylor, Z.S. and S.M.G. Hoffman. (2010) MtDNA genetic structure transcends natural boundaries in Great Lakes populations of deer mice (Peromyscus maniculatus gracilis). Canadian Journal of Zoology 88:404-415. DOI:10.1139/Z10-010

Myers, P., B. Lundrigan, S.M.G. Hoffman, A. Haraminac, S. Seto. (2009) Climate-induced changes in the small mammal communities of the northern Great Lakes. Global Change Biology 15:1434-1454. Cover credit. DOI:10.1111/j.1365-2486.2009.01846.x