Michael H. Ferkin, Ph.D.

Michael H. Ferkin, Ph.D.


(901) 678-3509
(901) 678-4457
315 Ellington Hall, Memphis, TN 38152
Office Hours
By Appointment

About Dr. Ferkin

My research involves the study of animal behavior. Since I joined the faculty of the University of Memphis in 1995, my research has determined aspects of how animals communicate with one another, and how this affects their subsequent social and sexual interactions. My students and I study the social and sexual behavior of animals from four different levels of analysis, mechanism, development, function, and evolutionary history. We have addressed questions regarding the role of olfactory communication in the expression of social and sexual behavior in small mammals, such as voles. We have made many important discoveries that have increased our understanding of the physiology, ontogeny, cognitive functioning, adaptive significance and evolution and function of the behaviors that support social and sexual interactions in terrestrial mammals. My laboratory has been supported primarily through competitive grants from the National Science Foundation and National Institutes of Health. To date, we have been awarded over $1.5 million dollars from these granting agencies. My lab has also published 125 peer-reviewed papers, in top-tier journals such as Nature, Animal Behaviour, Hormones and Behavior, Behaviour, Physiology and Behavior, Ethology, Journal of Comparative Psychology, Animal Cognition, and Behavioral Ecology. Our papers in Nature and Animal Cognition received much recognition in the scientific and public arena; several articles were published in journals and newspapers discussing our findings. I currently serve as an editor for Animal Behaviour and for Current Zoology.I am committed to high quality science training for undergraduate and graduate students. I feel strongly that teaching and research are not dichotomous. One of my main goals as a researcher and teacher is to stimulate students' thinking about the complexity and elegance of science, particularly the study of animal behavior. I teach courses in Animal Behavior, Behavioral Ecology, Animal Cognition, Communication, General Endocrinology, and Comparative Anatomy of Vertebrates,

Research Interests

  • Animal Behavior
  • Behavioral Ecology
  • Animal Cognition
  • Sperm Competition


B.S. Biological Sciences, SUNY Brockport; MS Biological Sciences, SUNY Brockport; Ph.D. Biology, Boston University; Post-Doctoral Fellow Psychology, UC Berkeley; Post-Doctoral Fellow Psychology, Cornell University

Recent Publications

  • Sabau, R. M. & Ferkin, M. H. 2013. Food deprivation and restriction during late gestation affects the sexual behavior of postpartum female meadow voles, Microtus pennsylvanicus. Ethology 119: 29-38.
  • Vlautin C. T., Ferkin M. H. 2013. The outcome of a previous social interaction with a same-sex conspecific affects the behavior of meadow voles, Microtus pennsylvanicus. Ethology 119: 212-220.
  • Ferkin, M. H. & delBarco-Trillo, J. 2014. The behavior of female meadow voles, Microtus pennsylvanicus, during postpartum estrus and the responses of males to them. Mammalian Biol. 79: 81-89.
  • Vlautin C. T. & Ferkin M. H. 2014. Female meadow voles, Microtus pennsylvanicus, do not alter their over-marking in response to female conspecifics that differ in nutritional status. Acta Ethol. 17: 69-75.
  • Ferkin, M. H. & Hobbs, N. J. 2014. Female meadow voles, Microtus pennsylvanicus, respond differently to the scent marks of multiple male conspecifics. Anim. Cognition 17: 715-722.
  • Sabau, R. M. & Ferkin M. H. 2014. Maternal food restriction during lactation affects body weight and sexual behavior of male offspring in meadow voles (Microtus pennsylvanicus). Ethology 120: 793-803.
  • Sabau, R. M., Pierson, L. M. & Ferkin M. H. 2014. Body mass and attractivity of female offspring are negatively affected by food restriction of meadow vole (Microtus pennsylvanicus) dams during lactation. Behaviour 151: 1847-1868.
  • Pierson, L. M. & Ferkin M. H. 2015.The impact of phytoestrogens on sexual behavior and cognition in rodents. Mammal. Biol. 80: 148-154.
  • Ferkin, M. H. 2015. The response of rodents to scent marks: four broad hypotheses. Hormones and Behavior 68: 43-52.
  • Ferkin, M. H., Vlautin, C. T. & Pierson, L. M. in press. Age-related effects on individual discrimination among meadow voles, Microtus pennsylvanicus. In: Chemical Signals in Vertebrates 13. Edited by B. A. Schulte, T. Goodwin, and M. H. Ferkin. Springer Publ. Co.