Mike Mooring, Ph.D.

  • ProfessorQuetzal Education Research Center

Contact Info:


Dr. Mooring has been conducting behavioral ecology research since 1985, mounting field studies of African antelope, North American ungulates, and Neotropical mammals.  During this time he has worked in 6 countries and 5 states. His doctoral research focused on the parasite-defense behavior of impala in Zimbabwe, South Africa, and Namibia.  He received my Ph.D. from the Animal Behavior Graduate Group at UC Davis and completed postdoctoral positions at the University of Pretoria, University of Alberta, and UC Davis.  Since coming to PLNU in 1997, he has directed over 50 students in field research projects, primarily with bighorn sheep, American bison, and Neotropical felids.  Dr. Mooring’s current work in Costa Rica is at the interface of ecology and conservation biology.  Since 2010, he and his students have worked with local to survey the large mammalian predators and prey inhabiting the cloud forests of the Talamanca Cordillera, a high elevation mountain range in eastern Costa Rica that has been little studied.  His project promotes community-based conservation by empowering local communities to conduct their own wildlife research and engage in environmental education. Dr. Mooring brings his mammal expertise to QERC students through teaching a module of Tropical Ecology and Sustainability every other semester.

He lives with his family on the PLNU campus – his wife is a wildlife artist, his daughter is an International Studies major at PLNU and loves to travel, and his son is a passionate soccer player.

Ph.D., Animal Behavior, University of California, Davis
M.Sc., Animal Behavior, University of California, Davis
B.A., Environmental, Population, and Organismic Biology, University of Colorado, Boulder
Point Loma Nazarene University Full Tenured Professor, Biology
At Point Loma Nazarene University since 1997

Notable Accomplishments

Principal Investigator, NSF-RUI Award IOB-0517771, “Fitness Consequences of Sexually Selected Acoustical Signaling in American Bison,” 2005 – 2009
San Diego Zoo Global Jaguar Awards, seven awards from 2011 – 2017

Notable Publications

Wyman MT, Mooring MS, Pinter-Wollman N. (2016). Socially Connected Dominant Bison Bulls Emphasize Mating Quality Over Quantity. In review for Animal Behaviour.

Mooring MS, Penedo MCT. (2014). Behavioral Versus Genetic Measures of Fitness in Bison Bulls. Bison bison. Journal of Mammalogy 95: 913-924.

Li Z, Beauchamp G, Mooring MS. (2014). Relaxed Selection for Tick-Defense Grooming in Père David’s Deer? Biological Conservation. 178: 12–18.

Wyman MT, Mooring MS, McCowan B, Penedo MCT, Reby D, Hart LA. (2012). Acoustic Cues to Size and Quality in the Vocalizations of Male North American Bison. Bison bison. Animal Behavior. 84: 1381-1391.

View more of Dr. Mooring’s work on Research Gate


Research Fellow, Zoological Society of San Diego, 2013 – present
Member, Animal Behaviour Society
Founding Member, International Society for Behavioral Ecology
Member, American Society of Mammalogists
Member, Association for Tropical Biology and Conservation
Member, Society for Conservation Biology

Summary of Interests

Neotropical predators and prey
Bison behavioral ecology and conservation
Sexual segregation
Sexual selection and reproductive behavior
Behavioral endocrinology
Acoustical communication
Behavioral adaptations against parasites and disease
Space use and habitat selection