Mary Wicksten


Fax: 979-845-2891

Curriculum Vitae

3258 TAMU
Butler Hall
Room 304A

Butler Hall
Room 304

Joined the Department in 1980

  • 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.

Symbiosis, behavior and adaptive coloration in 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. My graduate students currently are studying the ecology of decapods and other crustaceans along the poorly-studied Texas coast.

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. Pigmentation may be a function not only of visual communication but also serve in physiological processes. 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 can integrate laboratory work under controlled conditions with observations and photography in the natural habitat. My work on spider crabs and hippolytoid shrimp indicates phylogenetic trends in behavior and coloration within certain clades and marked differences within others.

New remotely operated vehicles can operate at depths of 4000 m or more and transmit live video feed and high resolution still photos directly from the sea floor to my office. These images show animals previously known only from broken bleached dead specimens as living animals in their natural habitat. I cooperate in identifying these crustaceans as best as possible in the absence of specimens. I have been able to correlate “morphospecies” with particular host corals or sponges. I am working on new syntheses on biogeography of decapods at 700-4400 m, host specificity and behavior. With thousands of available photographs from the Gulf of Mexico and Pacific, I am happy to accommodate undergraduate and graduate students looking for projects.

  1. Arnés-Urgellés, C, Buglass, S, Ahyong, ST, Salinas-de-León, P, Wicksten, MK, Marsh, L et al.. Arthropoda; Crustacea; Decapoda of deep-sea volcanic habitats of the Galapagos Marine Reserve, Tropical Eastern Pacific. Biodivers Data J. 2020;8 :e54482. doi: 10.3897/BDJ.8.e54482. PubMed PMID:32973394 PubMed Central PMC7483338.
  2. Salinas-de-León, P, Martí-Puig, P, Buglass, S, Arnés-Urgellés, C, Rastoin-Laplane, E, Creemers, M et al.. Characterization of deep-sea benthic invertebrate megafauna of the Galapagos Islands. Sci Rep. 2020;10 (1):13894. doi: 10.1038/s41598-020-70744-1. PubMed PMID:32807819 PubMed Central PMC7431423.
  3. Baba, K, Wicksten, MK. Chirostyloidean squat lobsters (Crustacea: Decapoda: Anomura) from the Galapagos Islands. Zootaxa. 2019;4564 (2):zootaxa.4564.2.5. doi: 10.11646/zootaxa.4564.2.5. PubMed PMID:31716504 .
  4. Hancock, ZB, Goeke, JA, Wicksten, MK. A sea anemone of many names: a review of the taxonomy and distribution of the invasive actiniarian Diadumene lineata (Diadumenidae), with records of its reappearance on the Texas coast. Zookeys. 2017; (706):1-15. doi: 10.3897/zookeys.706.19848. PubMed PMID:29118617 PubMed Central PMC5674082.
  5. Amon, DJ, Ziegler, AF, Drazen, JC, Grischenko, AV, Leitner, AB, Lindsay, DJ et al.. Megafauna of the UKSRL exploration contract area and eastern Clarion-Clipperton Zone in the Pacific Ocean: Annelida, Arthropoda, Bryozoa, Chordata, Ctenophora, Mollusca. Biodivers Data J. 2017; (5):e14598. doi: 10.3897/BDJ.5.e14598. PubMed PMID:28874906 PubMed Central PMC5565845.
  6. Baba, K, Wicksten, MK. <i>Uroptychus</i> <i>nitidus</i> (A. Milne-Edwards, 1880) and related species (Crustacea: Decapoda: Anomura: Chirostylidae) from the western Atlantic. Zootaxa. 2017;4221 (3):zootaxa.4221.3.1. doi: 10.11646/zootaxa.4221.3.1. PubMed PMID:28187664 .
  7. Baba, K, Wicksten, MK. <i>Uroptychus</i> <i>atlanticus</i>, a new species of squat lobster (Crustacea: Decapoda: Anomura: Chirostylidae) from the western Atlantic Ocean. Zootaxa. 2017;4227 (2):zootaxa.4227.2.10. doi: 10.11646/zootaxa.4227.2.10. PubMed PMID:28187590 .
  8. 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.
  9. Wicksten, MK, Stachowicz, JJ. Mimulus Stimpson, 1860, a junior synonym of Pugettia Dana, 1851 (Decapoda: Brachyura: Majoidea: Epialtidae). Zootaxa. 2013;3693 :358-64. doi: 10.11646/zootaxa.3693.3.6. PubMed PMID:26185854 .
  10. 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 .
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