Armin Moczek

Armin Moczek

Class of 1955 Professor of Biology, Fulbright Distinguished Chair of Science, Technology, and Innovation, Biology


  • Ph.D., Department of Biology, Duke University, Durham, NC, 2002
  • M.S., Zoology Julius-Maximilians University, Würzburg, Germany, 1996

Research interests

Our lab addresses a fundamental question in biology: how do novel phenotypic traits originate and diversify in nature? We use a wide range of approaches to address this question from different perspectives, and on different levels of biological organization. We use behavioral and ecological approaches in the lab and field on experimental and natural populations to understand when and how ecological processes can drive phenotypic evolution. We employ standard developmental techniques and growth manipulations to address physiological mechanisms of phenotype formation and evolution. Lastly, we rely on an increasing range of developmental-genetic and molecular tools (gene expression, gene function analysis, genomic and proteomic approaches) to investigate the genetic and genomic regulation of phenotype expression and diversification.

While each of these approaches has provided valuable insights, it has been most of all the integration across these levels of analyses that has proven most informing and fascinating.

Our study organisms have been primarily beetles in the genus Onthophagus. We have also begun to address related questions in other organisms, in particular the beetle family Lampyridae (fireflies, lightening bugs) and Drosophila, and are open to add additional organisms to our repertoire.

The Moczek laboratory offers a wide range of opportunities for postgraduate, graduate and undergraduate research in Evolution, Development and Ecology. At the same time this lab is part of one of the strongest and most diverse Biology Departments with a stellar record in integrative, cross-disciplinary work. If you are interested in joining this lab please contact Armin Moczek (

Representative publications

Phenotypic plasticity's impacts on diversification and speciation (2010)
David W Pfennig, Matthew A Wund, Emilie C Snell-Rood, Tami Cruickshank, Carl D Schlichting and Armin P Moczek
Elsevier Current Trends. 25 (8), 459-467

Does evolutionary theory need a rethink? (2014)
Kevin Laland, Tobias Uller, Marc Feldman, Kim Sterelny, Gerd B Müller, Armin Moczek ...
Nature News, 514 (7521), 161

The extended evolutionary synthesis: its structure, assumptions and predictions (2015)
Kevin N Laland, Tobias Uller, Marcus W Feldman, Kim Sterelny, Gerd B Müller, Armin Moczek ...
The Royal Society. 282 (1813), 20151019

The role of developmental plasticity in evolutionary innovation (2011)
Armin P Moczek, Sonia Sultan, Susan Foster, Cris Ledón-Rettig, Ian Dworkin, H Fred Nijhout ...
The Royal Society. 278 (1719), 2705-2713

Male horn dimorphism in the scarab beetle, Onthophagus taurus: do alternative reproductive tactics favour alternative phenotypes? (2000)
Armin P Moczek and Douglas J Emlen
Animal behaviour, 59 (2), 459-466

Proximate determination of male horn dimorphism in the beetle Ontophagus taurus (Coleoptera: Scarabaeidae) (1999)
Armin P Moczek and Douglas J Emlen
Journal of Evolutionary Biology, 12 (1), 27-37

Toward a population genetic framework of developmental evolution: the costs, limits, and consequences of phenotypic plasticity (2010)
Emilie C Snell‐Rood, James David Van Dyken, Tami Cruickshank, Michael J Wade and Armin P Moczek
Bioessays, 32 (1), 71-81

On the origins of novelty in development and evolution (2008)
Armin P Moczek
BioEssays, 30 (5), 432-447

Horn polyphenism in the beetle Onthophagus taurus: larval diet quality and plasticity in parental investment determine adult body size and male horn morphology (1998)
Armin Philipp Moczek
Behavioral Ecology, 9 (6), 636-641

Differential recruitment of limb patterning genes during development and diversification of beetle horns (2009)
Armin P Moczek and Debra J Rose
Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 106 (22), 8992-8997

Food availability controls the onset of metamorphosis in the dung beetle Onthophagus taurus (Coleoptera: Scarabaeidae) (2001)
Majid Shafiei, Armin P Moczek and H Frederik Nijhout
Physiological Entomology, 26 (2), 173-180

Trade-offs during the development of primary and secondary sexual traits in a horned beetle (2004)
Armin P Moczek and H Frederik Nijhout
The American Naturalist, 163 (2), 184-191

Phenotypic plasticity and diversity in insects (2010)
Armin P Moczek
The Royal Society. 365 (1540), 593-603

Rapid evolution of a polyphenic threshold (2003)
Armin P Moczek and H Frederik Nijhout
Evolution & development, 5 (3), 259-268

Developmental mechanisms of threshold evolution in a polyphenic beetle (2002)
Armin P Moczek and H Frederik Nijhout
Evolution & development, 4 (4), 252-264