Eric Pianka

Denton A. Cooley Centennial Professor, Section of Integrative Biology,
for additional biographical information, see Pianka's lab web page

Lab web site Education | Research Interests | Instruction | Awards | Publications

PAT 125
(512) 471-7472

PAT 119
(512) 471-1456

(512) 471-3878


  • B.A., Biology, Carleton College, Northfield, MN, 1960
  • Ph.D., Zoology, University of Washington, Seattle, 1965
  • D.Sc., Ecology, University of Western Australia, Nedlands, 1990

Research Interests

My interests are ever changing but have included population and community ecology, evolutionary ecology, natural history of desert lizards, resource partitioning, reproductive tactics, foraging theory, allocation, design constraints thermoregulation, metapopulations, historical accident and biogeography, species diversity, macrodescriptors, pseudocommunities, phylogenetic systematics, computer simulation of model systems, emergent properties of ecological systems, indirect interactions among populations, disturbance, succession, and landscape ecology.

My graduate students are autonomous scientists who not only obtain their own funding but also design, execute, and publish their own research (they also land academic positions at major universities--about half of them are now tenured). They work on a wide range of projects, both theoretical and empirical, as well as on a diversity of organisms including ants, butterflies, eigenvalues, grasshoppers, protozoans, frogs, fish and lizard communities, as well as various species of birds. Currently, I am working on the fire succession cycle in the Great Victoria Desert of Western Australia and on phylogenetic systematic studies of Ctenotus skinks and varanid lizards.

More information - see Dr. Pianka's lab page, full of information (including all the other links on this page) both verbal and pictoral, this same description of general interests with pictures, description of his research projects, and a description of his DNA lab.


Fall 2006:

  • BIO 301M - Ecology, Evolution, and Society

Spring 2007:

  • BIO 357 - Evolutionary Ecology

More information: list of courses taught, past graduate students, letter to prospective graduate students, and detailed summary of the study of herpetology at U.T.


  • Guggenheim Fellow, 1978
  • Fellow, American Association for the Advancement of Science, 1981
  • Denton A. Cooley Centennial Professorship in Zoology, 1986--(for life)
  • Fulbright Senior Research Scholar, Australia, 1990
  • Dean's Fellow, Fall Semesters, 1998, 2003
  • Teaching Excellence Award, College of Natural Sciences, 1999
  • Big XII Faculty Fellowship, 2000-2001
  • Best non-fiction book, Oklahoma Center for the Book, 2004
  • Distinguished Herpetologist, Herpetologists' League, 2004
  • Featured in a 2004 Russian book "Faces of Ecology" by G.C. Rosenberg along with many famous ecologists
  • Lawrence Slobodkin Lecture in Evolution, State University of New York, Stony Brook
  • Grand Prize, Ninth Annual UT Coop Robert W. Hamilton Book Awards, March 23, 2005
  • Inaugural Address for Ecology, Evolution and Behavior program, Texas A&M University
  • Distinguished Scientist, Texas Academy of Science 2006

See more info on Dr. Pianka's Honors and Awards.

More information - see list of invited lectures


  • Pianka, E. R. 1994. The Lizard Man Speaks. University of Texas Press, Austin.
  • Vitt, L. J. and E. R. Pianka (eds.) 1994. Lizard Ecology: Historical and Experimental Perspectives. Princeton University Press.
  • Pianka, E. R. 2000. Evolutionary Ecology. Sixth Edition. Benjamin-Cummings, Addison-Wesley-Longman. San Francisco.
  • Huey, R. B., E. R. Pianka, and L. J. Vitt. 2001. How often do lizards "run on empty?" Ecology 82: 1-7.
    Thompson, G. G. and E. R. Pianka. 2001. Allometry of clutch and neonate sizes in monitor lizards (Varanidae: Varanus). Copeia 2001: 443-458.
  • Winemiller, K. O., E. R. Pianka, L. J. Vitt, and A Joern. 2001. Food web laws or niche theory? six independent empirical tests. American Naturalist 158: 193-199.
  • Pianka, E. R. 2002. A general review of zoological trends during the 20th century. A. Legakis, S. Sfenthourakis, R. Polymeni, and M. Thessalou-Legaki, eds. Proc. 18th International Congress of Zoology, pp.3-13.
  • Pianka, E. R. and L. J. Vitt. 2003. Lizards: Windows to the Evolution of Diversity. University of California Press, Berkeley.
  • Vitt, L. J., E. R. Pianka, W. E. Cooper, and K. Schwenk. 2003. History and the global ecology of squamate reptiles. American Naturalist 162: 44-60.
  • Thompson, G. G., P. C. Withers, E. R. Pianka, and S. A. Thompson. 2003. Assessing biodiversity with species accumulation curves: Inventories of small reptiles by pit-trapping in Western Australia. Austral Ecology 28: 361-383.
  • Jennings, W. B., E. R. Pianka, and S. Donnellan. 2003. Systematics of the lizard family Pygopodidae with implications for the diversification of Australian temperate biotas. Systematic Biology 52: 757-780.
  • Vitt, L. J. and E. R. Pianka. 2004. Historical patterns in lizard ecology: what teiids can tell us about lacertids. In V. Perez-Mellado, N. Riera, and A Perera (eds.) The Biology of Lacertids. Evolutionary and Ecological Perspectives. Institut Menorqui d'Estudis. Recerca 8: 139-157.
  • Pianka, E. R. and D. R. King, eds. 2004. Varanoid Lizards of the World. Indiana University Press.
  • Pianka, E. R. and H. S. Horn. 2005. Ecology's Legacy from Robert MacArthur. Chapter 11 (pp. 213-232) in K. Cuddington and B. Biesner, eds. "Ecological Paradigms Lost: Theory Change." Academic Press.
  • Pianka, E. R. and S. S. Sweet. 2005. Integrative biology of sticky feet in geckos. BioEssays 27: 647-652.
  • Vitt, L. J. and E. R. Pianka. 2005. Deep history impacts present day ecology and biodiversity. Proc. Nat. Acad. Sci. 102: 7877-7881.
  • Vitt, L. J. and E. R. Pianka. 2006. The Scaly Ones. Natural History. July/August 2006, vol. 115: 28-35.

More information - list of publications