Susan M. Hoffman

Susan Hoffman

Associate Professor

246 Pearson Hall 

Biographical Information

The Hoffman lab studies the evolutionary genetics of mammals; we are interested in the relationship between genetic diversity and population viability, especially as it relates to mammal conservation. We are analyzing the levels of genetic diversity in endangered versus expanding populations, taking advantage of recent dramatic shifts in the distributions of small mammals in the Great Lakes region. In apparent response to climate change, some small mammals from the central Midwest are quickly expanding their ranges and are replacing similar species in the northern Midwest. We are interested in how the interactions between closely related species in this region can affect demographic and evolutionary processes such as inbreeding, real and effective population size, phenotypic plasticity, and population viability. We are using data from microsatellite and mitochondrial markers, landscape and vegetation analyses, morphometrics, and fieldwork to produce an integrated picture of small mammal population dynamics in the region.

In collaboration with other laboratories, we have linked the overall pattern of small mammal movements to warmer overwinter temperatures, but we still do not understand the proximate mechanisms by which one species replaces the other. We are currently focusing on the population genetics, morphology, and habitat specificity of woodland mice in Michigan, where a northern subspecies of deer mouse (Peromyscus maniculatus gracilis) is being replaced by the more southern white-footed mouse (Peromyscus leucopus noveboracensis). We are interested in using the patterns we have observed in these model species to frame questions about other small terrestrial animals in the region, some of which are of conservation concern.

We are also collaborating with researchers from several other universities to track the spread of Lyme disease among Peromyscus populations. In particular, we are trying to determine whether the spread of Peromyscus leucopus, which is the primary reservoir species for the disease, is facilitating the establishment of Lyme disease in northern Michigan.

Courses Taught

  • Genetics (BIO 342)
  • Mammalogy (BIO 410)
  • Advanced Molecular Biology (BIO 605)

Selected Publications

  • Underhill, V., G.G. Pandelis, J. Papuga, A.C. Sabol, A. Rife, T. Rubi, S.M.G. Hoffman, B. Dantzer. (2021) Personality and behavioral syndromes in two Peromyscus species: Presence, lack of state dependence, and lack of association with home range size. Behavioral Ecology and Sociobiology 75:9. https://doi:10.1007/S00265-020-02951-9

  • Prado, J.R., T.L. Rubi, J.M. Baumgartner, S.M.G. Hoffman, B. Dantzer, L.L. Knowles. Postglacial colonization in the Great Lakes Region by the white-footed mouse (Peromyscus leucopus): conflicts between genomic and field data. In press, Journal of Mammalogy.

  • Baumgartner, J. M., and S.M.G. Hoffman. (2019) Comparison of the responses of two Great Lakes lineages of Peromyscus leucopus to climate change. Journal of Mammalogy 100:2, p. 354–364.
  • Moscarella, R., S.M.G. Hoffman, P. Myers, C. Yahnke, and B. Lundrigan. (2019) Genetic and demographic analysis of invasive Peromyscus leucopus in the northern Great Lakes Region. Journal of Mammalogy 100:2, p. 345–353.
  • Walsh, S.E., W.E. Woods and S.M.G. Hoffman. (2016) Effects of range contraction and habitat fragmentation on genetic variation in the woodland deer mouse (Peromyscus maniculatus gracilis). American Midland Naturalist Vol. 176:2, p272-281. DOI:10.1674/0003-0031-176.2.272
  • Taylor, Z.S., P. Myers and S.M.G. Hoffman. (2015) Colonization of the Beaver Island Archipelago by deer mice (Peromyscus maniculatus gracilis): mtDNA evidence for multiple origins. Canadian Journal of Zoology: 93: 239–244. DOI:10.1139/cjz-2014-0234
  • Taylor, Z.S. and S.M.G. Hoffman. (2014) Landscape models for nuclear genetic diversity and population structure in white-footed mice (Peromyscus leucopus). Heredity 112: 588-595. doi:10.1038/hdy.2013.140. DOI:10.1038/hdy.2013.140
  • Taylor, Z.S. and S.M.G. Hoffman. (2012) Microsatellite genetic structure and cytonuclear discordance in naturally fragmented populations of deer mice (Peromyscus maniculatus). Journal of Heredity 103(1): 71-79. DOI:10.1093/jhered/esr100
  • Taylor, Z.S. and S.M.G. Hoffman. (2010) MtDNA genetic structure transcends natural boundaries in Great Lakes populations of deer mice (Peromyscus maniculatus gracilis). Canadian Journal of Zoology 88:404-415. DOI:10.1139/Z10-010
  • Myers, P., B. Lundrigan, S.M.G. Hoffman, A. Haraminac, S. Seto. (2009) Climate-induced changes in the small mammal communities of the northern Great Lakes. Global Change Biology 15:1434-1454. Cover credit. DOI:10.1111/j.1365-2486.2009.01846.x