I study cooperation and conflict in biological systems ranging from cells to communities. In particular, I track information transmission through social interactions to understand how fine-scale communication can have pervasive, system-level effects like mediating gene flow, altering selection pressures, and resulting in complex and dynamic modes of gleaning information, keeping information secret, and lying.

Animal Contests: Organisms have evolved a variety of strategies to engage in contests. Most focus has been on the signalling side – the weaponry or other phenotypes that enable fighting. While receiver phenotypes can be inconspicuous, they are critical for understanding how communication evolves. For example, some research has shown that opponents ignore information about each other’s fighting ability, even in species with exaggerated weaponry. I am particularly interested in understanding what information contestants use, how, when, and variation therein.

Social parasitism: Social groups require cooperation, but this makes groups vulnerable to cheaters, robbers, and liars. Slave-making ants steal the eggs of opposing colonies and raise them as their own workers. Social pseudoscorpions seem to tolerate other species of juvenile-mimicking, brood-parasitizing solitary pseudoscorpions. The trade-off between social tolerance and policing of cheaters is an area of biology I find particularly interesting.

Behavior x Genomics: Genes and the environment determine behavioral phenotypes. Conversely, however, the behavioral phenotypes of an organism can shape its population genetics. I study how information exchange and behavioral phenotypes combine to result in parapatric speciation and assortative mating.


Chapin KJ, Peixoto PEC, Briffa M. 2019. Further mismeasures of animal contests: a new framework for assessment strategies. Behavioral Ecology. doi scholar pdf

  • Responses
    • Kasumovic MM. 2019. Simplifying our understanding of contests: a comment on Chapin et al. Behavioral Ecology doi
    • Reichert MS. 2019. Zooming in on assessment strategies: a comment on Chapin et al. Behavioral Ecology doi
    • Mesterton-Gibbons M. 2019. Squaring the information triangle: a comment on Chapin et al. Behavioral Ecology doi
    • Parker GA. 2019. So we all choose our own assessment rules?: a comment on Chapin et al. Behavioral Ecology doi
    • Elwood RW. 2019. Problems with repeated contests: a comment on Chapin et al. Behavioral Ecology doi

Winkler DE, Chapin KJ, François O, Garmon JD, Gaut BS, Huxman TE. 2019. Multiple introductions and population structure during the rapid expansion of the invasive Sahara mustard (Brassica tournefortii). Ecology & Evolution. doi pdf

Chapin KJ, Smith KH. 2019. Vertically stratified arthropod diversity in Florida upland hardwood forests. Florida Entomologist. 102:1 doi pdf

Chapin KJ, Winkler DE, Wiencek P*, Agnarsson I. 2018. Island biogeography and ecological modeling of the amblypygid Phrynus marginemaculatus in the Florida Keys archipelago. Ecology & Evolution 8:9139–9151 doi pdf

Chapin KJ, Chen E*. 2018. Reproductive strategy of a cave-living arachnid with indeterminate growth (Phrynus longipes). Journal of Arachnology 46:380–383. doi pdf

Winkler DE, Gremer JR, Chapin KJ, Kao M, Huxman TE. 2018. Rapid alignment of functional trait variation with locality across the invaded range of Sahara mustard (Brassica tournefortii). American Journal of Botany 105:1188–1197 doi pdf

McArthur IW*, Miranda G, Seiter M, Chapin KJ. 2018. Global patterns of sexual dimorphism of Amblypygi. Zoologischer Anzeiger 273:56–64. doi pdf

Chapin KJ, Reed-Guy S*. 2017. Territoriality mediates atypical size-symmetric cannibalism in the Amblypygi Phrynus longipes. Ethology 123:772–777. doi pdf

Chapin KJ, Reed-Guy S*. 2017. Territoriality mediates atypical size-symmetric cannibalism in the Amblypygi Phrynus longipes. Ethology 123:772–777. doi pdf

Chapin KJ, Nonacs PN, Hayes L. 2017. Evaluating an open-exam approach to engaging students in evolutionary paradoxes: Cheating to Learn. American Biology Teacher 79:140–144. doi pdf

Winkler DE, Chapin KJ, Kueppers LM. 2016. Soil moisture mediates alpine life form and community productivity responses to warming. Ecology 97:1553–1563. doi pdf

Chapin KJ, Hebets EA. 2016. Behavioral Ecology of Amblypygi. Journal of Arachnology 44:1–14. doi pdf

Journal of Arachnology

Chapin KJ, Hill-Lindsay S*. 2015. Territoriality evidenced by asymmetric intruder-holder motivation in an amblypygid. Behavioural Processes 122:110–115 doi pdf

Chapin KJ. 2015. Cave-epigean behavioral variation of the whip spider Phrynus longipes (Arachnida: Amblypygi) evidenced by activity, vigilance, and aggression. Journal of Arachnology. 43:214–219. doi pdf

Chapin KJ. 2014. Microhabitat and spatial complexity predict group size of the whip spider Heterophrynus batesii in Amazonian Ecuador. Journal of Tropical Ecology 30:173–177. doi pdf

Journal of Arachnology Cover Image

Chapin KJ. 2011. A subcuticular permanent marking technique (Visual Implant Elastomer) for Scorpions. Journal of Arachnology 39:194–6 doi pdf

2011 Chapin KJ, Meylan PA. 2011. Turtle populations at a heavily used recreational site: Ichetucknee Springs State Park, Columbia and Suwannee Counties, Florida. Herpetological Conservation & Biology 6(1):51–60. pdf


  • American Arachnological Society
  • American Museum of Natural History
  • American Philosophical Society
  • Animal Behavior Society
  • Defense Advanced Research Program Agency
  • Explorer’s Club
  • Denver Museum of Nature and Science
  • University of Arizona
    University of California, Los Angeles
    West Texas A&M University