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Dr. Monte L. Thies

Professor of Biology


Department of Biological Sciences

Box 2116

Sam Houston State University

Huntsville, Texas 77341


200D Life Sciences Building


Voice: (936)294-3746.      e-mail: bio_mlt@shsu.edu

FAX: (936)294-3940

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Ph.D. in Zoology, May 1993, Oklahoma State University, Stillwater.  Dissertation title: Chromosomal aberrancy and organochlorine pesticide bioaccumulation in the Mexican free-tailed bat: A comparison between Oklahoma and New Mexico populations. Research included body burden and cytogenetic effects of organochlorine pesticide contamination in the Mexican free-tailed bat, Tadarida brasiliensis, and demographic and genetic biomonitoring of small mammal populations exposed to environmental contaminants.

M.S. in Biology, December 1987, from the University of Central Oklahoma, Edmond.  Thesis title: Spatial distribution of Neotoma micropusnests in southwestern Oklahoma. Research focused on ecology, activity patterns and habitat preferences of a population of the southern plains woodrat.

B.S. in Biology, December 1985, from the University of Central Oklahoma, Edmond.  Undergraduate specialization in field biology.

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Current Courses:

FALL 2021

BIOL3420 – Comparative Vertebrate Anatomy

BIOL5380 – Advanced Ecology: Biogeography

Other courses I teach or have taught:

BIOL1408 – Contemporary Biology

BIOL3461 – Wildlife Biology

BIOL4430 – Vertebrate Natural History

BIOL5385 – Mammalogy

BIOL1401 – Environmental Science

HONR1331 – Honors Seminar

BIOL3409 – General Ecology

BIOL/ENVR4320 – Ecological Toxicology

ENVR4305 – Hazardous Waste Management

BIOL/ENVR4110, 4111 – Biology and Environmental Science Seminars

BIOL4374 – Biostatistics

BIOL5371 – Evolution

BIOL5380 – Advanced Ecology – Statistical Ecology

BIOL5381 - Ecological Computer Modeling

BIOL5394 Special Topics – Museum Methods

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Research Interests and Activities:

Curator of Mammals for the SHSU Vertebrate Museum, 1992-present.

Detailed microCT and 3D description and analyses of vertebrate crania, with a special interest in morphological variation among primates, small mammals, and a number of other vertebrate taxa.  We are working to characterize muscular and neural anatomy using Iodine-based contrast staining of soft tissues, with special interest in jaw function and cranial adaptations associate with miniaturization and fossoriality.

A key to the skulls of North American mammals, 4th edition:  This revision incorporates updated taxonomy since the 3rd edition and is published through Kendall Hunt Publishing Co.

Description and analysis of the vertebrate fauna from the Koanaka Hills and Gcwihaba Hills, Ngamiland Province, Botswana, in collaboration with Dr. Patrick J. Lewis: emphasis is on a complete inventory of small mammals, amphibians and reptiles with the express purpose of comparing modern species assemblages to those of Plio-Pleistocene deposits in Bone Cave (Koanaka Hills) and Gcwihaba Cave (Gcwihaba Hills).  Areas of study developing out of this include:

·        Identification of fragmented remains (e.g., teeth, partial crania, and major post-cranial elements) using comparative methods, with extensive imaging of skeletal elements and morphometric analyses.  Current analyses are also moving into 3-D shape analyses that are intended to allow accurate species-level identification to skeletal and dental remains (both modern and fossil).

·        Effects of large-scale wildfire on terrestrial vertebrate species diversity and relative abundance. Original data collections in 2008 were followed almost immediately by expansive wildfire, and a return sampling effort was conducted with financial support from the National Science Foundation and SHSU.

·        A detailed comparison of terrestrial vertebrates found in owl pellet and small mammal trapping using standard ecological methods.

·        A survey of ecto- and endoparasite diversity in small mammals collected in 2008 and 2009, including an examination of possible effects of the last 2008 fires on parasite infections.

A description and analysis of the small mammal fauna from the Plovers Lake and the Coopers D sites, Gauteng, South Africa.

Director for the SHSU Center for Biological Field Studies from 2000 through 2010: duties included general management and operations of the 247 acre facility as well as organizing and facilitating teaching and research programs.

A key to the skulls of North American mammals, 3rd edition:  Developed in collaboration with Dr. Bryan P. Glass, Professor Emeritus, Oklahoma State University, the updated text with approximately 175 redrawn figures is being self-published.

Research focused on field studies of West Nile Virus, Dengue Fever, and Chagas’ Disease at points along the Texas-Mexico border between McAllen and Brownsville; establishment of the Sam Houston Disease Vector Program with its associated Biosafety Level 2 (BSL2) Diagnostic Laboratory for handling material collected in field projects; and implementation of in-depth field sampling of vectors and reservoirs.

Small mammal surveys, including recently completed projects for two Texas Army National Guard training sites, which incorporate comprehensive survey of the mammals present on both sites.

Application of vertebrate anatomy and environmental toxicology to forensic studies. Work included “An atlas and key to the hair of terrestrial mammals of Texas” with complete diagnostic keys and light microscopy and scanning electron micrographs, co-authored with Anica Debelica.

Ecological studies of the Mexican free-tailed bat: Ongoing research includes cooperative projects with the Texas Department of Criminal Justice and Texas Parks and Wildlife in which three of my past graduate students conducted a molecular systematic comparison of the two subspecies, pesticide accumulations and their effects, roosting behavior, and microhabitat variables in colonies of free-tailed bats in a warehouse at the Walls Unit in Huntsville (Brad Bennett and O. Caprice Coleman) and the Old Tunnel Wildlife Management Area at Fredericksburg, Texas (Wendy Armstrong).

Texas Regional Institute for Environmental Studies (TRIES, SHSU): Half-time appointment to the institute beginning January 1994 through May 1997 has involved determination of military facilities' needs for floral and faunal inventories, threatened and endangered species surveys, and impacts of current base activities on the environment. As Project Director, I wrote and was responsible for implementing formal scopes of work for comprehensive floral and faunal surveys (including threatened and endangered species) for the Arizona Army National Guard’s Camp Navajo, Coconino County, Arizona, and the U.S. Navy’s Dixie Bomb Target and Escondido Ranch, McMullen County, Texas. Field surveys at Camp Navajo began in April 1994 and the project was completed in June 1996. I supervised and coordinated the activities of five SHSU faculty members and supervised three graduate students who conducted vegetation surveys and analyses for floral and faunal (bird and mammal) comparisons with two Masters degrees completed (John McHugh and Greg Creacy). We also established Land Condition-Trend Analysis plots for long-term land use monitoring and developed geographic information system databases for future use by the military in monitoring the effects of their activities on the base. Activities at Dixie began in January 1995. The project included developing an Integrated Natural Resource Management Plan and completing comprehensive floral and vertebrate faunal inventories. Denise Ruffino completed her Masters research on habitat characteristics and associated rodent species on the DTSER.

Terrestrial vertebrate surveys of the Lake Livingston State Park, Polk Co., Texas: As Project Director, I coordinated and supervised six graduate students in completing a comprehensive inventory of terrestrial vertebrates found within the park. The project was completed in December 1995.

Mammals of the Roy E. Larsen Sandyland Sanctuary, Hardin Co., Texas: This project, a comprehensive survey of the mammals present on the preserve, was funded in part by the Texas Nature Conservancy (TNC) and was completed in December 1995. This project provided the TNC with distribution and abundance data necessary for determination of the effectiveness of long-leaf pine restoration and management practices.

The evaluation of zooplankton populations and water quality in the Trinity River System as related to environmental needs of paddlefish (Polyodon spathula): Half-time summer support for 1993 and 1994 included supervision of one graduate and two undergraduate students in zooplankton sampling and collection of water quality information from four localities along the Trinity River above Livingston Reservoir. The final report was submitted to the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department 1 September 1994

A survey of organochlorine pesticide contamination in the bats of Eckert James River Cave, Texas: 1993 half-time summer research involved collection of Mexican free-tailed bats (Tadarida brasiliensis) and cave myotis (Myotis velifer) from a cave in central Texas owned by the Nature Conservancy of Texas to determine the occurrence of organochlorine insecticides. This study compared contamination levels in a year-round resident species and a species which migrates to Mexico and Central America during the fall where compounds such as DDT are still actively used.

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Selected Publications:



Thies, M. L.  2020.  Comparative Vertebrate Anatomy: A Lab Manual. 2nd edition”. Kendall Hunt Publishing Co., Dubuque, IA.



Thies, M. L.  2016.  A key to the skulls of North American mammals, 4th edition”. Kendall Hunt Publishing Co., Dubuque, IA.



Debelica, A., and M. L. Thies.  2009.  An atlas and key to the hair of terrestrial Texas mammals”. Texas Tech Museum Special Publication No. 55:1-102.




Lutterschmidt, W. I., Z. E Perelman, D. R. Neyland, M. L. Thies, and E. D. Roth.  Accepted.  Agkistrodon piscivorus (Northern Cottonmouth). Diet. Natural History Notes – Snakes. Submitted 3 December 2020.

Green, C, P. J. Lewis, J. R. Wozniak, P. E. Drevnick, and M. L. Thies. 2019. A comparison of factors affecting the small-scale distribution of mercury in a Zimbabwean stream system. Science of the Total Environment 647:400-410. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.scitotenv.2018.07.418 (Published online 31 July 2018).

Petrin, C. E., W. Caire, M. L. Thies B. R. Elbing, and T. Martin. 2018. Modification of drag on the ear of Brazilian free-tailed bats (Tadarida brasiliensis) via leading-edge tubercles. 2018 Fluid Dynamics Conference, AIAA AVIATION Forum, (AIAA 2018-2917). https://doi.org/10.2514/6.2018-2917

Weidler, J. M, M. L. Thies, A. Smith-Herron, E. J. Tivador III, E. D. Roth, and W. I. Lutterschmidt. 2017. Agkistrodon piscivorus leucostoma (western cottonmouth). Unusual field injury. Herpetological Review. Herpetological Review 48(3):664-665.

Gignac, P. M., N. J. Kley, J. A. Clarke, M. W. Colbert, A. C. Morhardt, D. Cerio, I. N. Cost, P. G. Cox, J. D. Daza, C. M. Early, M. S. Echols, R. M. Henkelman, A. N. Herdina, C. M. Holliday, Z. Li, K. Mahlow, S. Merchant, J. Muller, C. P. Orsbon, D. J. Paluh, M. L. Thies, H. P. Tsai, and L. M. Witmer. 2016. Diffusible iodine-based contrast-enhanced computed tomography (diceCT): an emerging tool for rapid, high-resolution, 3-D imaging of metazoan soft tissues. Journal of Anatomy. doi: 10.1111/joa.12449.

Petrin, C. E., M. L. Thies, W. Caire, and B. R. Elbing. 2015. Bat ear aerodynamics: preliminary results from flow visualization over ears with and without tubercles. 35th Oklahoma AIAA/ASME Symposium Program.

Daza, J. D., A. A. Mapps, P. J. Lewis, M. L. Thies, and A. M. Bauer. 2015. Peramorphic traits in the tokay gecko skull. Journal of Morphology. 276:915–928

Thies, M. L., and P. J. Lewis. 2015. Effects of fire on small mammals of the Koanaka Hills, Northwestern Botswana. Occasional Papers of the Museum of Texas Tech University 330:1-20.

Wozniak, J. R., M. L. Thies, J. A. Bytheway, and W. I. Lutterschmidt. 2015. A hydrologic retention system and water quality monitoring program for a human decomposition research facility: concept and design. Journal of Forensic Science 60:54-60. DOI:10.1111/1556-4029.12537

Urben, C. C., J. D. Daza, C. Cadena, P. J. Lewis, and M. L. Thies.  2014.  The Homology of the Pelvic Elements of Zygaspis quadrifrons (Squamata: Amphisbaenia). Anatomical Record, 297:1407–1413. doi: 10.1002/ar.22930 

McDonough M, C. Sotero-Caio, A. Ferguson, P. Lewis, M. Tswiio, and M. Thies.  2013.  Mitochondrial DNA and karyotypic data confirm the presence of Mus indutus and Mus minutoides (Mammalia, Rodentia, Muridae, Nannomys) in Botswana. ZooKeys 359: 35-51. doi10.3897/zookeys.359.6247

Campbell, T. L., P. J. Lewis, M. L. Thies, and J. K. Williams.  2012.  A Geographic Information Systems (GIS) based analysis of modern South African rodent distributions, habitat use, and environmental tolerancesEcology and Evolution 2:2881–2894. http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1002/ece3.384/full

Thies, M. L., R. Tutalo, M. D. Labbe, and P. J. Lewis.  2012.  Assessing the difficulties of genus-level diagnoses of fossil rodents. Journal of Paleontology, 32:183.

Kennedy, A. M., J. Marias, A. M. Bauer, P. J. Lewis, and M. L. Thies.  2012.  Effect of Fire on the Herpetofauna of the Koanaka Hills, Ngamiland, Botswana. Check List 8:666–674. http://www.checklist.org.br/getpdf?SL028-12

Thies, M., I. Arney, B. Denova, J. Taylor, P. Lewis.  2011.  Species-level apomorphies in southern African Microfauna: data from the postcrania. Journal of Paleontology 31:204.

Lewis, P., M. Thies, T. Campbell, R. Tutalo, and A. Kennedy.  2011. The small mammal fauna from Koanaka South and the utility of rodents as paleoenvironmentalindicators. Journal of Paleontology 31:143.

Thies, M. L.  2011.  Extreme periodontal disease in a Brazilian free-tailed bat (MolossidaeTadarida brasiliensis) from east Texas. Southwestern Naturalist 56:112–115. doihttp://dx.doi.org/10.1894/TAL-20.1

Cureton II, J. C., P. J. Lewis, and M. L. Thies.  2010.  Evaluating acetic acid for removing microvertebrate fossils from cave breccias. Botswana Notes and Records42:172-178.

Ferguson, A. W., M. M. McDonough, M. L. Thies, P. J. Lewis, and M. Gabadirwe.  2010.  Mammals of the Koanaka Hills (Nqumtsa Hills) Region, Ngamiland, Botswana: A Provisional Checklist. Botswana Notes and Records 42:163-171. http://www.jstor.org/stable/23237981

Kraig, S. E., S. M. Roels, and M. L. Thies.  2010.  Effectiveness of chemical repellents in deterring red imported fire ants (Solenopsis invicta) from Sherman live traps. Southwestern Naturalist 55:203-206. doihttp://dx.doi.org/10.1894/JS-24.1

Kennedy, A. M., B.-A. S. Bhullar, P. J. Lewis, and M. L. Thies.  2010.  A preliminary analysis of a Plio-Pleistocene herpetofauna from Botswana: A conservative apomorphy-based identification. Proceedings of the 16th Conference of the Palaeontological Society of Southern Africa (Howick, August 5–8, 2010), Pietermaritzburg, 2010:49-51.

Thies, M. L., M. Aguilar, and P. J. Lewis.  2010.  A morphometric comparison of Aethomys chrysophilus and Micaelamys namaquensis from northwestern Botswana. Proceedings of the 16th Conference of the Palaeontological Society of Southern Africa (Howick, August 5–8, 2010), Pietermaritzburg, 2010:106-107.

Bauer, A. M., A. M. Kennedy, P. J. Lewis, M. L. Thies, and M. Gabadirwe.  2009.  The herpetofauna of Koanaka South and adjacent regions, Ngamiland, Botswana. Herpetological Bulletin, 107:16-26. https://www.shsu.edu/~bio_www/documents/Koanaka%20Herpetofauna.pdf

Bennett, B. S., and M. L. Thies.  2007.  Organochlorine Pesticide Residues in Guano of Brazilian Free-tailed Bats, Tadarida brasiliensis Saint-Hilaire, from East Texas. Bulletin of Environmental Contamination and Toxicology 78:191-194.

Thies, M. L.  2003.  Use of bat carcasses as nesting material by Rock Dove. Bulletin of the Texas Ornithological Society 36(2):12-13.

McHugh, C. P., M. L. Thies, P. C. Melby, L. D. Yantis Jr., R. P Raymond, M. D. Villegas, and S. F. Kerr.  2003.  Short report: a disseminated infection of Leishmania mexicana in an eastern woodrat, Neotoma floridana, collected in Texas. American Journal of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene 69:470-472.

Dunlap, B. G., and M. L. Thies.  2002.  Giardia in beaver (Castor canadensis) and nutria (Myocastor coypus) from east Texas. Journal of Parasitology 88:1254-1258.

Lutterschmidt, W. I., and M. L. Thies.  1999.  Geographic distribution of Syrrhophus cystignathoides (Rio Grande chirping frog). Herpetological Review 30:51.

Thies, M. L., and K. M. Thies.  1997.  Organochlorine residues in bats from Eckert James River Cave, Texas. Bulletin of Environmental Contamination and Toxicology 58:673-680.

Ostrand, K. G., M. L. Thies, D. D. Hall, and M. Carpenter.  1996.  Gar ichthyootoxin: Its effects on natural predators and the toxin’s evolutionary function. Southwestern Nat. 41:375-377.

Thies, K., M. L. Thies, and W. Caire.  1996.  House construction by the southern plains woodrat (Neotoma micropus) in southwestern Oklahoma. Southwestern Naturalist 41:116-122.

Thies, M. L., K. Thies, and K. McBee. 1996.  Organochlorine pesticide accumulation and genotoxicity in Mexican free-tailed bats from Oklahoma and New Mexico.  Archives of Environmental Contamination and Toxicology 30:178-187.

Thies, M. L., K. Thies, and K. McBee.  1994.  Cross-placental transfer of organochlorine pesticides in the Mexican free-tailed bat.  Archives of Environmental Contamination and Toxicology 27:239-242.

Thies, M. L.  1994.  A new record for Plecotus rafinesquii (Chiroptera: Vespertilionidae) in east Texas. Texas Journal of Science 46:368-369.

Thies, M. L., and D. Gregory.  1994.  Residues of lead, cadmium, and arsenic in livers of Mexican free-tailed bats. Bulletin of Environmental Contamination and Toxicology 52:641-648.

Thies, M. L., T. L. Payne, and W. Caire.  1993.  The eastern harvest mouse, Reithrodontomys humulis, in northcentral Oklahoma. Proceedings of the Oklahoma Academy of Science 73:79-80.

Caire, W., T. H. Harrison, S. Stevens, R. Grantham, M. L. Thies, and K. Thies.  1993.  Notes of the prairie mole cricket, Gryllotalpa major, in northeastern Oklahoma. Proceedings of the Oklahoma Academy of Science 73:73-75.

Thies, M. L., and W. Caire.  1991.  Nearest-neighbor analysis of the spatial distribution of houses of Neotoma micropus in southwestern Oklahoma. Southwestern Naturalist 36:233-237.

Thies, M. L., and W. Caire.  1990.  Association of Neotoma micropus houses with various plant species in southwestern Oklahoma. Southwestern Naturalist 35:80-82. 

Caire, W., and M. L. Thies.  1988.  Notes on the occurrence of morphological and color aberrations in bats from Oklahoma, Missouri, and Mexico. Proceedings of the Oklahoma Academy of Science 68:75-76.

Caire, W., and M. L. Thies.  1987.  The Seminole bat, Lasiurus seminolus (Chiroptera: Vespertilionidae), from central Oklahoma. Southwestern Naturalist 32:387.


Other Publications and Final Reports:

·        Koanaka Hills Project: 2007-2009 Final Report. Botswana National Museum and Botswana Ministry of Youth, Sport and Culture. Assembles and edited by P. J. Lewis, April 2011.

·        Mammals of Fort Wolters, Parker and Palo Pinto Counties, Texas. Texas Army National Guard, 11 August 2004.

·        Mammals of Camp Swift, Bastrop County, Texas. Texas Army National Guard, 10 August 2004.

·        Internal audit of the Center for Biological Field Studies.  SHSU Office of Internal Audit, 12 November 2002.

·        1995 Land Condition-Trend Analysis data: Camp Navajo, Arizona.  Arizona Army National Guard, 1 June 1996.

·        Threatened and Endangered species of Camp Navajo, Arizona.  US Department of Fish and Wildlife, Albuquerque, 1 February 1996.

·        Floral and Faunal inventories of Camp Navajo, Arizona.  Arizona Army National Guard, 1 February 1996.

·        Threatened and Endangered species of Camp Navajo, Arizona.  Arizona Army National Guard, 1 February 1996.  

·        Vertebrate inventory and collections from Camp Navajo, Arizona.  Arizona Game and Fish Department, Phoenix, 1 February 1996.

·        Floral collections from Camp Navajo, Arizona.  Arizona Department of Agriculture, Phoenix, 1 February 1996.

·        Terrestrial vertebrate surveys of the Lake Livingston State Park, Polk Co., Texas. Texas Parks and Wildlife Department, 1 December 1995.  


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Graduate student theses:

Brett Dunlap (Thesis co-advisor) - “Incidence of Giardia in beaver (Castor canadensis) and nutria (Myocastor coypus) in southeast Texas.” Master of Arts in Biology, August 1994.

Kenneth Ostrand (Thesis co-advisor) - “Gar ichthyootoxin: Its effects on natural predators and the toxin’s evolutionary function.” Master of Arts in Biology, May 1995.

John McHugh (Thesis advisor) - “An evaluation of the U.S. Army’s satellite imagery based site selection process.” Master of Arts in Biology, May 1996.

Greg Creacy (Thesis advisor) - “Bird and small mammal habitat associations at Camp Navajo Army Depot, Arizona: Implications for management.” Master of Science in Biology, December 1996.

Denise Ruffino (Thesis advisor) – “Species assemblages and habitat preferences of rodents on south Texas rangelands.” Master of Science in Biology thesis completed in May 1997.

James G. Coke, IV (Thesis advisor) – “First record of Hydra sp. from an anchialine cave in Quintana Roo, Mexico.” Master of Science in Biology, December 1998.

Wendy L. Armstrong (Thesis advisor) – “Pesticide accumulation and its potential for genetic effects in Brazilian free-tailed bats from central Texas.” Master of Science in Biology, May 2000.

Brad Bennett (Thesis advisor) – “Pesticide accumulation and DA content variation in two subspecies of Brazilian free-tailed bats.” Master of Science in Biology, May 2000.

Jennifer Wier (Thesis co-advisor) – “Seasonal changes in spermatogenesis in the Brazilian free-tailed bat.” Master of Science in Agriculture, May 2003.

O. Caprice Coleman (Thesis advisor) – “Genetic analysis of two subspecies of Brazilian free-tail bat (Tadarida brasiliensis) in Texas.” Master of Science in Biology, December 2004.

Anica Debelica (Thesis advisor) – “An atlas and key to the hair of Texas terrestrial mammals.” Master of Science in Biology, August 2005.

Katy Estill (Thesis advisor) – “Morphological variation among domestic rabbit breeds (Oryctolagus cuniculus) with a comparison to wild stock.” Master of Science in Biology, August 2012.

Corey Green (Thesis co-advisor) – “Small-scale distribution of mercury contamination in Zimbabwean streams: a comparison of three introductory pathways.” Master of Science in Biology, May 2017.

Drew Neyland (thesis advisor): “Source populations and genetic variation in beaver populations from East Texas.” MS in Biology, expected to graduate August 2021.


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