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Gordon Burghardt

Alumni Distinguished Service Professor

Research Interest

Comparative behavior, ethology


1966 - Ph.D., University of Chicago


Several lines of work are usually proceeding simultaneously in our research group. These include field and laboratory studies using observational, experimental, and molecular genetics approaches to questions of ontogeny and chemoreception in reptiles. Predation, social behavior, mating, and antipredator behavior are studied. Snakes are typically employed because of our interest in the tongue-vomeronasal organ system. Another active area of interest is play behavior in “non-playing” taxa.

I also have a continuing interest in the behavior of bears and humans, ethical treatment of animals, and theoretical and historical issues in ontogeny, and the historical antecedents of contemporary ethology, psychology, and sociobiology.

CURRENT RESEARCH PROJECTS: (including student and collaborative efforts)

  1. Comparative ontogeny of predation, defense, sociality, and play.
  2. Behavior, phylogeny, and speciation in Natricine snakes.
  3. Intraspecific behavioral and genetic variation.
  4. Heritability of learning and multiple paternity.
  5. Behavior of two-headed ringneck snake.


Visit Google Scholar for a list of publications.

Contact Information

  • Department of Psychology 310A Austin Peay Bldg. University of Tennessee Knoxville, TN 37996-0900
  • Phone: (865) 974-3300
  • Fax: (865) 974-9530
  • E-mail: