Rick Gillis, Professor of Biology



Phone: (608)-785-8253     E-Mail: rgillis@uwlax.edu              Office Hours ~ Fall 2022 


 Hiking With Dakota I in the Uinta Mountains of Utah ~ August 2012


"Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn't do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream" - Remember, "Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry and narrow-mindedness.” ~ Mark Twain



I am a broadly trained zoologist with an interest in the ecology of whole organisms, particularly amphibians and reptiles. If you would like to see some additional photos of me, my wife Gail (who has retired from the Management Department of the College of Business Administration here at the University of Wisconsin-La Crosse) and some of our American Eskimo dogs (past and present), click Here.


Over the past 20 years I have the opportunity to lead over a dozen Amazon River tours for a Florida-based tour company called Explorations Inc.  In addition to offering both jungle safaris and river boat tours to the Peruvian Amazon, the company also organizes trips to the Cuzco and the Sacred Valley of the Incas, including spectacular Machu Picchu, as well as Costa Rica and some of the most important Mayan sites in Mexico and Central America. You can also visit their newer website at: Adventures Of Discovery.


For more information about these trips, contact Charlie Strader anytime toll free from the USA, Canada and Puerto Rico: (800)-446-9660.


To see some of the photos I have taken while conducting Amazon Tours, click on my Amazon Photo Album.


To see some of my favorite travel photos from other places, click on my Travel Photo Album.



   Ph.D. Zoology - Colorado State University, 1975

   M.S. Zoology - Colorado State University, 1968

  B.A. Spanish - University of Pennsylvania, 1965



Courses Taught FALL 2019

   General Biology (BIO 105)

   Ecology (BIO 307)

   Organismal Biology (BIO 203) Labs


Web Sites  


   Zoo Lab - A Resource for Animal Biology

   A & P Lab - A Resource for the Human Anatomy & Physiology Laboratory


Membership in Professional Societies

    American Institute of Biological Sciences

   Ecological Society of America

   Society for the Study of Amphibians and Reptiles

   Society for the Study of Evolution

   Herpetologist's League

   Southwestern Association of Naturalists


Hobbies and Personal Interests

     Flying: Private Pilot with Single Engine, Land, Seaplane, Glider and Instrument Ratings

    SCUBA Diving - SSI Advanced Open Water Diver

   Amateur Radio - General Class Operator's License (NØYCM)

   Travel and Photography

   Hiking and Backpacking

Research Interests

My research interests in the past have centered broadly on such problems as the evolution and use of temperature regulation in ectothermic (cold-blooded) organisms, amphibian water economy and the role of color and pattern in predator avoidance.  I am also interested in population ecology and the evolution of life history patterns, particularly of reptiles. More recently, I have become interested in several populations of terrestrial slugs that appear to be living in some local, spring-fed streams. Although my principal target organisms have been amphibians and reptiles, I have also worked with grasshoppers and bats. Recently, I have been working with several colleagues investigating the effects and possible control of the invasive faucet snail (Physa tentaculata) that harbors four species of trematode parasites that have led to the death of thousands of waterfowl annually on the Upper Mississippi River.

Peer-Reviewed Publications

Carmosini, N., R. Gillis, I. Abdelrahman and G.J. Sandland. 2018. A pilot evaluation of the toxicity of EarthTec® QZ on invasive (Bithynia tentaculata) and native (Physa gyrina) snail species from the Upper Mississippi River. Bulletin of Environmental Contamination and Toxicology (On-Line)

Sandland, G.J., R. Gillis, R.J. Haro and P. Peirce. 2014. Infection patterns in invasive and native snail hosts exposed to a parasite associated with waterfowl mortality in the Upper Mississippi River, USA. Journal of Wildlife Diseases 50:125-129.

Sandland,G.J., S. Houk, B. Walker, R.J. Haro and R. Gillis. 2013. Differential patterns of infection and life-history expression in native and invasive hosts exposed to a trematode parasite. Hydrobiologia 701:89-98.

Haro, R. J., R. Gillis and S.T. Cooper. 2004. First report of a terrestrial slug (Arion fasciatus) living in an aquatic habitat. Malacologia 45:451-452.

Howe, G. E., R. Gillis and R. C. Mowbray. 1998. Effect of chemical synergy and larval stage on the toxicity of atrazine and alachlor to amphibian larvae. Environmental Toxicology and Chemistry 17:519-525.

Gillis, R. and R. E. Ballinger. 1992. Reproductive ecology of red-chinned lizards (Sceloporus undulatus erythrocheilus) in southcentral Colorado: comparisons with other populations of a wide ranging species.  Oecologia 89:236-243.

Gillis, R. 1991. Thermal biology of two populations of red-chinned lizards (Sceloporus undulatus erythrocheilus) from Colorado.  Journal of Herpetology 25:18-23.

Gillis, R. 1989. Selection for substrate reflectance-matching in two populations of red-chinned lizards (Sceloporus undulatus erythrocheilus) from Colorado. American Midland Naturalist 121:197-200.

Gillis, R. and P.A. Smeigh. 1987. Altitudinal variation in thermal behavior of the grasshopper Circotettix rabula. Southwestern Naturalist 32:203-211.

Gillis, R. and W. J. Breuer. 1984. A comparison of evaporative water loss and tolerance to dehydration in the red-eft and newt of Notophthalmus viridescens. Journal of Herpetology 15:81-82.

Gillis, R. and K. W. Possai. 1983. Thermal niche partitioning in the grasshoppers Arphia conspersa and Trimerotropis suffusa from a montane habitat in central Colorado. Ecological Entomologist 8:155-161.

Gillis, R. 1982. Substrate colour-matching cues in the cryptic grasshopper Circotettix rabula (Rehn & Hebard). Animal Behaviour 30:113-116.

Lysenko, S. and R. Gillis. 1980. Effect of ingestive status on thermoregulatory behavior of Thamnophis sirtalis sirtalis and Thamnophis sirtalis parietalis.  Journal of Herpetology 14: 155-159.

Gillis, R. 1979. Adaptive differences in the water economies of two species of leopard frogs from eastern Colorado. Journal of Herpetology 13:445-450.

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