• A.B., 1970, Humboldt State College, Biology.
  • M.A., 1972, Humboldt State College, Biology.
  • Ph.D., 1977, University of Southern California.
  • Postdoctoral research: University of Southern California.

Joined the department in 1980.

Wicksten Lab Webpage

Behavior, zoogeography and systematics of marine decapod Crustacea

Decapods are among the best-known crustaceans, ranging from tiny shrimp to crabs with a leg span of up to nearly 4 m.. Major predators, disturbers of sediments, and elements of food chains, these animals are found in almost all marine habitats. New species continue to be found. Of those already known to science, often the descriptions are very old and lack details needed for more modern comparative work. Genetic studies are in their infancy.

Decapods can range in color from brilliantly marked to dull, white or transparent. Color patterns can function in camouflage, courtship, or aggressive displays, but may differ within a single species according to age, diet, or sex. The consistency of color patterns within a species is unknown in many, if not most, decapods. Pigmentation may be a function not only of visual communication but also serve in physiological processes such as intermediary metabolism and strengthening of the integument. Some crabs add to their camouflage by carrying foreign objects or attaching sponges, shells, algae, etc. to their bodies. Studies on adaptive coloration and camouflage must integrate laboratory work under controlled conditions with observations and photography in the natural habitat. My own current work on spider crabs and hippolytid shrimp indicates phylogenetic trends in behavior and coloration within certain clades and marked differences within others. Do these differences reflect problems with the currently accepted systematic arrangement?

To publish anything worthwhile on behavior of a species, one must be able to identify that species. I am studying the Thoridae, a family of small-sized marine shrimp that are remarkably diverse in the cold waters of the North Pacific. Evidence suggests that these shrimp may be losing range due to global warming. They may be replaced by members of a different family, the Palaemonidae, a group of more aggressive predatory shrimp. But to study such a replacement, one must identify the shrimp. The last major study was in 1906. All previous work has been morphological. Evidence from my own work and that of Greg Jensen, University of Washington, suggests that not only have species been confused (one species is actually two, three species actually are only one) but the generic designation may depend on temperature-dependent features. With a small start-up grant from the Arctic Biodiversity Study, I am collaborating with Luis Hurtado,, Department of Wildlife and Fisheries Science, to obtain some molecular data on genetic affinities within the Thoridae and potentially allied shrimp taxa. These data may at least indicate which of the supposed genera are distinct or even if the Thoridae is indeed a natural group. Examination of the 150 or more presumed species will begin following an assessment of the genera.

  1. Baba, K, Wicksten, M. Uroptychus minutus Benedict, 1902 and a closely related new species (Crustacea: Anomura: Chirostylidae) from the western Atlantic Ocean. Zootaxa. 2015;3957 (2):215-25. . PubMed PMID:26249067 .
  2. Wicksten, MK, Nuttall, MF, Hickerson, EL. Crustaceans from antipatharians on banks of the northwestern Gulf of Mexico. Zookeys. 2014; (457):45-54. doi: 10.3897/zookeys.457.6280. PubMed PMID:25561830 PubMed Central PMC4283364.
  3. Wicksten, MK, Stachowicz, JJ. Mimulus Stimpson, 1860, a junior synonym of Pugettia Dana, 1851 (Decapoda: Brachyura: Majoidea: Epialtidae). Zootaxa. 2013;3693 :358-64. . PubMed PMID:26185854 .
  4. Wei, CL, Rowe, GT, Nunnally, CC, Wicksten, MK. Anthropogenic "Litter" and macrophyte detritus in the deep Northern Gulf of Mexico. Mar. Pollut. Bull. 2012;64 (5):966-73. doi: 10.1016/j.marpolbul.2012.02.015. PubMed PMID:22386802 .
  5. Wei, CL, Rowe, GT, Escobar-Briones, E, Boetius, A, Soltwedel, T, Caley, MJ et al.. Global patterns and predictions of seafloor biomass using random forests. PLoS ONE. 2010;5 (12):e15323. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0015323. PubMed PMID:21209928 PubMed Central PMC3012679.
  6. Wicksten, M. and C. Cox. 2011 (November). Invertebrates associated with gorgonians in the northern Gulf of Mexico. Marine Biodiversity Records 4: 1-9.
  7. Wicksten, M. 2008. Decapod Crustacea of the Californian and Oregonian Zoogeographic Provinces. Scripps Institution of Oceanography Library Paper 26: 1-413.
  8. Soliman, Y. and M. Wicksten. 2007. Ampleisca mississippiana: a new species (Crustacea: Amphipoda: Gammaridae) from the Mississippi Canyon (northern Gulf of Mexico). Zootaxa 1389: 45-54.
  9. Pequegnat, L. and M. Wicksten. 2006. Oplophorid shrimps (Decapoda: Caridea: Oplophoridae) in the Gulf of Mexico and Caribbean Sea from the collections of the research vessels Alaminos, Oregon and Oregon II. Crustacean Research 35: 92-107.
  10. Wicksten, M. and J. Packard. 2005. A qualitative zoogeographic analysis of decapod crustaceans of the continental slopes and abyssal plain of the Gulf of Mexico. Deep-Sea Research Part I 52 (2005): 1745-1765.
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Mary Wicksten

Mary Wicksten

3258 TAMU
College Station, TX 77843-3258

Butler Hall
Room 304A

Butler Hall
Room 304

Fax: 979-845-2891
Email: wicksten@bio.tamu.edu

Curriculum Vitae