Steven E. Travis

Steven E. Travis, Ph.D.

Academic Director



Peter and Cecile Morgane Hall 106
Biddeford Campus



Southern Oregon University
Northern Arizona University
Northern Arizona University

Post-Doctoral Training

Post-Doctoral Training, Biology
Northern Arizona University (Flagstaff)

Post-Doctoral Training, Forest Sciences
University of British Columbia (Vancouver)


Current research

Broadly speaking, my research focuses on the role of genetics in population and community ecology.  I have worked with a diverse array of animals and plants, and in a variety of natural systems ranging from grasslands to forests to wetlands.  I study particularly the factors influencing mating relationships in small mammals and passerine birds, both within populations (i.e., mating systems) and among populations (i.e., migration).  My plant-based work has looked particularly at plant species that fill a foundational niche within their broader ecosystems, focusing on the role of individual genotypes, as well as genotypic diversity, on the structural and functional properties of populations and communities.  For example, I have demonstrated that genotypic diversity in a foundational salt marsh plant, smooth cordgrass (Spartina alterniflora), develops as a function of intraspecific competition, with greater diversity leading to a more species rich community that is better able to discourage invasion by exotics.  Most recently, I have begun to transition this “community genetics” focus to upland forest communities in the New England region by considering how genetic neighborhoods comprised of pines and oaks affect the structure of multiple trophic levels from decomposers (soil microbes) to primary and secondary consumers (small mammals).

Selected publications

Travis, S.E., M.R. *Simon, and G.P. Zogg. 2024. Environmental Sensitivity of Soil Microbial Communities is Altered in Association with Plant Roots in Salt Marsh Ecosystems. Northeastern Naturalist 31:146-162.

*Dowling, T., S.E. Travis, P.A. Morgan, and G.P. Zogg. 2023. Can the marsh migrate? Factors influencing the growth of Spartina patens under upland conditions. Wetlands Ecology and Management 31:887-897.

Tangen, B.A., S. Bansal, J.A. Freeland, L.G. Goldsborough, K. Gow, J.E. Marburger, T.P. McGonigle, J.A. Meier, S.E. Travis, J.D. Wasko. 2022. Distribution of native and invasive Typha (cattail) throughout the Prairie Pothole Region of North America. Wetlands Ecology and Management 30:1-17.

Zogg, G.P, and S.E. Travis. 2022. Genotypic diversity reduces the negative effects of increased competition, herbivory and abiotic stress on the productivity of a foundational macrophyte, Spartina alternifloraEstuaries and Coasts 45:462-469.

*White, E.M., N.G. Perlut, S.E. Travis, and A.M. Strong. 2021. Microsatellite markers yield new insight into extra-pair paternity in Bobolinks (Dolichonyx oryzivorus). The Wilson Journal of Ornithology 133:476-483.

*White, E., N. Perlut, S. Travis, A. Strong. 2021. Diverse demographic factors influence apparent juvenile survival in a migratory songbird. Ecosphere 12:e03761.

*Pugliares-Bonner, K.R., K. LaSpina, K.S. Rose, S.E. Travis, and K.M. Cammen. 2021. Strandings provide insight into variable social group structure of Atlantic white-sided Dolphins.  Marine Mammal Science 37:901-918.

Bansal, S., S. Lishawa, S. Newman, B. Tangen, D. Wilcox, D. Albert, M. Anteau, M. Chimney, R. Cressey, E. DeKeyser, K. Elgersma, S. Finkelstein, J. Freeland, R. Grosshans, P. Klug, D. Larkin, B. Lawrence, G. Linz, J. Marburger, G. Noe, C. Otto, N. Reo, J. Richards, C. Richardson, L. Rodgers, A. Schrank, D. Svedarsky, S. Travis, N. Tuchman, L. Windham-Meyer. 2019. Typha (cattail) invasion in North American wetlands: biology, regional problems, impacts, ecosystem services, and management. Wetlands 39:645-684.

Cava, J.A., N.G. Perlut, and S.E. Travis. 2019. Heritability and evolvability of morphological traits of Savannah sparrows (Passerculus sandwhichensis) breeding in agricultural grasslands. PLoS ONE 14(1): e0210472.

Middleton, B.A., S.E. Travis, B. Kubátová, D. Johnson, and K.R. Edwards. 2019. Morphology and genetics of Lythrum salicaria from latitudinal gradients of the Northern Hemisphere grown in cold and hot common gardens. PLoS ONE 14(1): e0208300.

Zogg, G.P, S.E. Travis, and D.A. Brazeau. 2018. Strong associations between plant genotypes and bacterial communities in a natural salt marsh. Ecology and Evolution doi: 10.1002/ece3.4105

Legault, R. II., G.P. Zogg, and S.E. Travis. 2018. Competitive interactions between native Spartina alterniflora and non-native Phragmites australis depend on nutrient loading and temperature. PLoS One 13(2): e0192234.

Simon, M.R., G.P. Zogg, and S.E. Travis. 2017. Effect of Sea Level Rise on Sediment Microbial Decomposition in Salt Marshes along the United States Atlantic Coast. Journal of Soils and Sediments doi: 10.1007/s11368-017-1710-8

Slater, M.A., P.A. Morgan, C. Tilburg, and S.E. Travis. 2017. Environmental variables, not Allee effects, drive patch vigor in exotic Phragmites australis stands invading the Saco River Estuary, Maine, USA. Aquatic Botany 136:220-229.

Cava, J., N.G. Perlut, and S.E. Travis. 2016. Why come back home?  Investigating the proximate factors that influence natal philopatry in migratory passerines. Animal Behaviour 118:39-46.

Travis, S. E., and C. E. Proffitt. 2016. Genotypic interactions limit growth and stimulate flowering in a salt marsh foundation plant species. Perspectives in Plant Ecology, Evolution, and Systematics 18:33-44.

Proffitt, C. E. and S. E. Travis. 2014. Red mangrove fitness and climate change:  Roles of stress, outcrossing and mutation rate. Ecology and Evolution doi: 10.1002/ece.

Perlut, N. G., S. E. Travis, *C. Dunbar, A. M. Strong, and *D. Wright. 2014. Nestling sex ratios do not support long-term parity in two species with different life-history strategies.  The Auk 131:224-234.

Marburger, J., and S. Travis. 2013. Cattail hybridization in national parks: An example of cryptic plant invasions. Park Science: Integrating Research and Resource Management in the National Parks 30:58-68.

Klima, K. and S. E. Travis. 2012. Genetic population structure of invasive nutria (Myocastor coypus) in Louisiana, USA:  Is It Sufficient for the Development of Eradication Units? Biological Invasions 14:1909-1918. 

Travis, S. E., J. E. Marburger,S. Windels,and B. Kubátová. 2011. Clonal structure of invasive cattail (Typhaceae) stands in the Upper Midwest Region of North America. Wetlands 31:221-228.

Snow, A. A., S. E. Travis, R. Wildová, T. Fér, P. M. Sweeney, J. E. Marburger, S. Windels, B. Kubátová, and D. E. Goldberg. 2011. Species-specific SSR markers for studies of hybrid cattails (Typha latifolia x T. angustifolia, Typhaceae) in North America. American Journal of Botany 97:2061-2067.

Proffitt, C. E. and S. E. Travis. 2010. Red mangrove seedling survival, growth, and reproduction: effects of environment and maternal genotype. Estuaries and Coasts 33:890-901.

Travis, S. E., and J. B. Grace. 2010. Predicting performance for ecological restoration: A case study using Spartina alterniflora. Ecological Applications 20:192-204.

Travis, S. E., J. E. Marburger,S. Windels,and B. Kubátová. 2010. Hybridization dynamics of invasive cattail (Typhaceae) stands in the Western Great Lakes Region of North America: a molecular analysis. Journal of Ecology 98:7-16.

Perkins, M., S. L. King, S. E. Travis, and J. Linscombe. 2009. Use of morphometric measurements to differentiate between species and sex of king and clapper Rails. Waterbirds 32:579-584.

Travis, S. E., J. E. Baggs, and J. Maschinski. 2008. Disentangling the role of hybridization in the evolution of the endangered Arizona cliffrose (Purshia X subintegra; Rosaceae): a molecular and morphological analysis. Conservation Genetics 9:1183-1194.

Howard, J. H., S. E. Travis, and B. A. Sikes. 2008. Rapid growth of a Eurasian haplotype of Phragmites australis in a restored brackish marsh in Louisiana, USA. Biological Invasions 10:369-379.

Proffitt, C. E., E. Milbrandt, and S. E. Travis. 2006. Red mangrove (Rhizophora mangle) reproduction and seedling colonization after Hurricane Charley: comparisons of Charlotte Harbor and Tampa Bay.  Estuaries and Coasts 29:972-978.

Travis, S. E., and P. Sheridan. 2006. A comparative analysis of genetic population structure among natural and restored shoalgrass (Halodule wrightii) populations along the northwest Gulf of Mexico Coast. Marine Ecology Progress Series 322:117-127.

Edwards, K. R., S. E. Travis, and C. E. Proffitt.  2005. Genetic effects of a large-scale Spartina alterniflora (smooth cordgrass) dieback and recovery in the northern Gulf of Mexico. Estuaries 28:204-214.

Proffitt, C. E. and S. E. Travis. 2005. Fine-Scale Mutational and Breeding System Effects of Environmental Contaminants on Red Mangroves in Tampa Bay, Florida.  Wetlands 25:326-334.

Travis, S. E., and M. H. Hester. 2005. A space-for time substitution reveals the long-term decline in genotypic diversity of a widespread salt marsh plant, Spartina alterniflora, over a span of 1,500 years. Journal of Ecology 93:417-430.

Proffitt, C. E., R. L. Chiasson, A. B. Owens, K. R. Edwards, and S. E. Travis. 2005. Spartina alterniflora genotype influences facilitation and suppression of high marsh species colonizing an early successional salt marsh. Journal of Ecology 93:404-416.

Ritland, K. and S. E. Travis. 2004. Inferences involving pairwise relatedness and individual inbreeding coefficients in natural populations: overview, and a comparative study of two British Columbia Abies species. Forest Ecology and Management 197:171-180.

Travis, S. E., C. E. Proffitt, and K. Ritland. 2004. Population structure and inbreeding vary with successional stage in created Spartina alterniflora marshes. Ecological Applications 14:1189-1202.

Egerova, J., C. E. Proffitt, and S. E. Travis. 2003. Facilitation of survival and growth of Baccharis halimifolia L. by Spartina alterniflora Loisel. in a created Louisiana salt marsh. Wetlands 23:250-256.

Proffitt, C. E., S.E. Travis, and K. R. Edwards. 2003. Genotype and elevation influence Spartina alterniflora colonization and growth in a created salt marsh. Ecological Applications 13:180-192.

Travis, S. E., C. E. Proffitt, R. C. Lowenfeld, and T. W. Mitchell. 2002. A comparative assessment of genetic diversity among differently-aged populations of Spartina alterniflora on restored versus natural wetlands. Restoration Ecology 10:37-42.

 Travis, S. E., K. Ritland, T. G. Whitham, and P. Keim. 1998. A genetic linkage map of pinyon pine (Pinus edulis) based on amplified fragment length polymorphisms. Theoretical and Applied Genetics 97:871-880.

Travis, S. E., C. N. Slobodchikoff, and P. Keim. 1997. DNA fingerprinting reveals low genetic diversity in Gunnison's prairie dog (Cynomys gunnisoni). Journal of Mammalogy 78:725-732.

Keim, P., A. Kalif, J. Schupp, K. Hill, S. E. Travis, K. Richmond, D. M. Adair, M. Hugh-Jones, C. Kuske, and P. Jackson. 1997. Molecular evolution and diversity in Bacillus anthracis as detected by AFLP markers. Journal of Bacteriology 179:818-824.

Keim, P., J. Schupp, S. Travis, C. Clayton, and D. Webb. 1997. A high-density soybean genetic map based primarily upon AFLP markers. Crop Science 37:537-543.

Travis, S. E., J. Maschinski, and P. Keim. 1996. An analysis of genetic variation in Astragalus cremnophylax var. cremnophylax, a critically-endangered plant, using AFLP markers. Molecular Ecology 5:735-745.

Travis, S. E., C. N. Slobodchikoff, and P. Keim. 1996. Social assemblages and mating relationships in prairie dogs:  A DNA fingerprinting analysis. Behavioral Ecology 7:95-100.

Travis, S. E., and P. Keim. 1995. Differentiating individuals and populations of mule deer using DNA. Journal of Wildlife Management 59:824-831. 

Travis, S. E., C. N. Slobodchikoff, and P. Keim. 1995. Ecological and demographic effects on intraspecific variation in the social system of prairie dogs. Ecology 76:1794-1803.

Schupp, J. M., S. E. Travis, R. F. Shand, L. B. Price, and P. Keim. 1995. A rapid bacterial permeabilization reagent that is useful for enzyme assays. Biotechniques 19:18-20.

Travis, S. E., and C. N. Slobodchikoff. 1993. Effects of food resource distribution on the social system of Gunnison's prairie dog (Cynomys gunnisoni). Canadian Journal of Zoology 71:1186-1192.