Justin C. Touchon

Associate Professor of Biology
Justin C. Touchon wearing a white, square patterned shirt against a light background.

I study animal behavioral ecology, life-history and phenotypic evolution, embryonic and larval development, and predator-prey interactions. I primarily study amphibians in both tropical and temperate systems. My main research involves using the treefrog Dendropsophus ebraccatus (and relatives in the same genus) to understand the forces that drive the evolution of reproduction on land. Dendropsophus ebraccatus has plasticity in reproduction, laying eggs in water under some conditions and laying eggs on land under others. I also study the tadpoles of this species, which have remarkable plasticity in morphology and coloration, growing different tail shapes and colors when raised in the presence of different types of predators. More locally I study the ecological interactions between amphibian eggs and their natural pathogens, predators and competitors. This work integrates behavior, development, and ecology with population genetics, phylogeography, and next-generation sequencing and comparative genomics.

BS, Willamette University; PhD, Boston University
At Vassar since 2014


Olmsted Hall of Biological Sc
Box 30

Research and Academic Interests

Animal Behavioral Ecology; Life-History and Phenotypic Evolution; Embryonic and Larval Development; Predator-Prey Interactions


BIOL 108 Information Flow in Biological Systems
NEUR 301 Seminar in Neuroscience and Behavior

In the Media

Tadpole with a large, colorful tail

Like many other creatures, some tadpoles are able to alter their appearance, a phenomenon called plasticity, to avoid predators. But do these tadpoles also alter their behavior depending on which predators are threatening them? That was a question Vassar Assistant Professor of Biology Justin Touchon and one of his students, Phoebe Reuben ’17, set out to answer when they conducted a study in the summer 2016 at the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute in Panama. Their research was published April 14 in the scientific journal Proceedings of the Royal Society B.


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