Britt Ousterhout

Britt Ousterhout on top of a mountainPh.D.

212 Tucker Hall
University of Missouri
Columbia, MO 65211

Research Interests

My dissertation focuses on the effects of phenotype and environment on movement behavior. I am particularly fascinated by factors that may contribute to an individual dispersing or remaining a resident; and the effects past and present environment may have on these behaviors.

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Juvenile ringed salamander from Missouri


Fence building crew for dispersal runs at Fort Leonard Wood, Missouri

Long distance dispersal movements are rare, with most individuals staying within their natal population. A growing body of literature identifying dispersal syndromes — suites of behaviors that are correlated across situations — suggests that dispersal does not involve a random sample of individuals. Rather, individuals that disperse are morphologically, physiologically, and/or behaviorally dissimilar from residents. These distinctions may result in differences in movement performance, habitat preference, genetic structure, response to density-dependence, and dispersal ability between residents and dispersers. By examining the fine-scale movements and behavioral responses of juveniles encountering habitat patches of varying quality as they depart natal sites, we can begin to predict patterns at larger ecological and spatial scales that affect local population and metapopulation dynamics.

Current Projects

(1)  Identifying a juvenile dispersal syndrome: contributions of phenotype- and condition-dependent factors

(2)  Influence of natal habitat on juvenile movement through delayed life-history effects

(3)  Spatially structured population dynamics of Ambystomatid salamanders



Undergraduate co-authors underlined, *Authors contributed equally, +Corresponding author

Under Revision/Review

Nussbaum, S.E, B.H. Ousterhout+, and R.D. Semlitsch. Agonistic behaviour suggestive of territoriality among sympatric juvenile pond-breeding salamanders.

Heligman, Z.E., B.H. Ousterhout+, C. Farmer, and R.D. Semlitsch. Behavior consistent with non-random dispersal in a juvenile salamander.

Anderson, T.L., B.H. Ousterhout, D.L. Drake, J.J. Burkhart, F.E. Rowland, W.E. Peterman, and R.D. Semlitsch. Differences in larval allometry among three ambystomatid salamanders.

Koenig, A.M. and B.H. Ousterhout+. Larval behavior is not a predictor of juvenile dispersal propensity in a pond-breeding amphibian.



Peterman, W.E., B.H. Ousterhout, T.L. Anderson, D.L. Drake, R.D. Semlitsch, and L.S. Eggert. In press. Assessing modularity in genetic networks to manage spatially structured metapopulations. Ecosphere.

Ousterhout, B.H.+ and R.D. Semlitsch. 2015. Non-additive response of larval ringed salamanders to intraspecific density. Oecologia

Anderson, T.L., J.L. Heemeyer, W.E. Peterman, B.H. Ousterhout, D.L. Drake, and R.D. Semlitsch. 2015. Automated analysis of temperature variance to determine inundation state of wetlands. Wetlands Ecology and Management 23:1039-1047.

Anderson, T.L., B.H. Ousterhout, W.E. Peterman, D.L. Drake, R.D. Semlitsch. 2015. Life history differences influence the impacts of drought on two pond-breeding salamanders. Ecological Applications 25:1896-1910.

Ousterhout, B.H.+ , T.L. Anderson, D.L. Drake, W.E. Peterman, R.D. Semlitsch. 2015. Habitat traits and species interactions differentially affect abundance and body size in pond-breeding amphibians. Journal of Animal Ecology 84:914-924.

Semlitsch, R.D., W.E. Peterman, T.A. Anderson, D.L. Drake, and B.H. Ousterhout. 2015. Intermediate pond sizes contain the highest density, richness, and diversity of pond-breeding amphibians. PLoSOne: e0123055.

Drake, D.L., B.H. Ousterhout, C.D. Shulse, D.J. Hocking, W.E. Peterman, T.L. Anderson, K.L. Lohraff, C.A. Conner, E.H. Harper, J.R. Johnson, T.A.G. Rittenhouse, B.B. Rothermel, L.S. Eggert, and R.D. Semlitsch. 2015. Pond-Breeding Amphibian Community Composition in Missouri. American Midland Naturalist 174:180-187.

Peterman, W.E., T.L. Anderson, B.H. Ousterhout, D.L. Drake, R.D. Semlitsch, and L.S. Eggert. 2015. Differential dispersal shapes population structure and patterns of genetic differentiation in two sympatric pond breeding salamanders. Conservation Genetics 16: 59-69.

Ousterhout, B.H.*+ , T.M. Luhring*, and R.D. Semlitsch. 2014. No evidence of natal habitat preference induction in juveniles with complex life histories. Animal Behaviour 19: 237-242.

Peterman, W.E., T.L. Anderson, D.L. Drake, B.H. Ousterhout, and R.D. Semlitsch. 2014. Maximizing pond biodiversity across the landscape: a case study of larval ambystomatid salamanders. Animal Conservation 17: 275-285.

Semlitsch, R.D., T.L. Anderson, M.S. Osbourn, and B.H. Ousterhout. 2014. Structure and dynamics of ringed salamander (Ambystoma annulatum) populations in Missouri. Herpetologica 70: 14-22.

Ousterhout, B.H.+ and R.D. Semlitsch. 2014. Measuring terrestrial movement behavior using Passive Integrated Transponder (PIT) tags: effects of tag size on detection, survival, and growth. Behavioral Ecology and Sociobiology 68: 343-350.

Drake, D.L, K. O’Donnell, and B.H. Ousterhout. 2011. Plethodon serratus (Southern Redback Salamander). Periodical cicada burrow use. Herpetological Review 43: 318-319.

Drake D.L. and B.H. Ousterhout. 2011. Summer breeding of the Southern Leopard Frog Rana sphenocephala (=Lithobates sphenocephalus) in southern Missouri. Missouri Herpetological Association Newsletter 24: 21-22.

Ousterhout, B.H.+ and E.B. Liebgold. 2010. Limited Dispersal and Site Tenacity of Adult and Juvenile Red-Backed Salamanders (Plethodon cinereus). Herpetologica 66: 269-275.


Popular Articles

Semlitsch, R.D., T.L. Anderson, D.L. Drake, B.H. Ousterhout, W.E. Peterman, and C.D. Shulse. 2013. Small, clustered wetlands promote amphibian persistence. The National Wetlands Newsletter. Environmental Law Institute, Washington, D.C.