Douglas L. Crawford

Professor, Marine Biology and Ecology

University of Miami 

Rosenstiel School of Marine and Atmospheric Science



My academic interests are to understand the basic properties of adaptation (e.g., the importance of standing genetic variation, are many of loci involved in adaptation, are there conserved pathways to resolve specific selective pressures, etc.).  Knowing this information provides insights into human health and diseases and how organisms will respond to global climate change.  Two important aspects of studying adaptation include research and teaching.  Both are valuable, and both require time and intellectual investment.  


An updated list of my publication is provided on Google Scholar with the search term “Douglas L. Crawford”. You may click on the link titled D. L. Crawford publications to visit the page. You may contatc me via email at

My history


I received my bachelor’s degree from the University of Washington working on behavioral and physiological adaptation in anurans, ants and birds [1-3].  I received my Ph. D. from Johns Hopkins University and post-doctoral training at Stanford University.  The research from these institutions focused on the molecular adaptation of the enzyme lactate dehydrogenase (e.g., [4-7]).  Since then my research has broadened to include complete metabolic pathways and now the complete genomes (e.g., [8-16]).  Thus, I started out examining organismal biology, then I became a molecular reductionist, and now I am interested in evolutionary adaptation and how genomic variation affects the physiology and function of organisms.  Much of this research is in collaboration with Dr. Marjorie F. Oleksiak.


I have had the pleasure of mentoring 4 Post-doctoral fellows; all have faculty positions at research universities.  I have had 9 Ph. D. students, and a current Ph. D. students.  All Ph. D.s published peer-reviewed papers from their dissertation research.  Over 24 undergraduates have worked with me, many have published papers and have pursued advanced degrees.


Productivity: I have published more than 60 manuscripts with my students and post-doctoral fellows.  These papers have > 2,000 citations, creating an H# of 22.  GoogleScholar




My primary interest is investigating the evolution of biologically important phenotypic variation.  We recently completed the genome for the organism that is the focus of much of my research: the small estuarine minnow Fundulus heteroclitus.  With this genome we are also re-sequencing the genomes of many individuals from several populations; this will open the door to defining the nucleotide divergence and potential adaptive variation within and among populations.  Combining these genome sequences with quantitative measures of gene expression and physiological/biochemical traits (metabolism, enzyme activity, pathway function, molecular mechanisms regulating transcription) will provide a foundation for much exciting research.  I say exciting, because unlike most organisms with genomes, F. heteroclitus has large outbred populations where local demes appear to have adapted to specific environments [5, 7-10, 12, 14, 17-24].  Large populations mean that natural selection is more likely to effect a change versus neutral evolutionary processes.  The observation that populations are phenotypically different means we can begin to assess how and why there is divergence between populations.  Together (large populations subject to selectively important environments) these traits should allow us to explore general principles of adaptive evolution.  This is the important point: collectively the biological sciences do not fully understand the population genetics of adaptation [25-27].  It is our (Dr. Oleksiak's and my) hypothesis that the application of genomic analyses, with functional analyses in a species subjected to local adaptation, will begin to address this basic understanding of evolution.  Understanding the basic principals of evolution is important for conservation biology, physiology, biochemistry and human medical biology.



There are incredible opportunities to understand how evolution shape important biological processes because of technological advances.  Currently, we can quantify the nucleotide variation at hundreds of thousands of loci, measure mRNA expression in most, if not all, genes, and examine the variation in protein concentration for 1,000s of genes.  These capabilities, when applied to many individuals, give us the previously unthinkable power to deduce patterns which implicate important biological and evolutionary processes.  Then, with appropriate experimental approach we can test these deductions to enhance our understanding.  There is exciting science to complete and by educating undergraduates, graduate and post-doctoral fellows this science should advance societies understanding of the environment and the biological processes that shape it.




1. Stinson, C., Crawford, D.L., and Lauthner, J., 1981. Sex differences in winter habitat of American Kestrels, Falco sparverius in Georgia. J Field Ornithol, 52: p. 29-36.


2. Crawford, D.L. and Rissing, S.W., 1983. Regulation of recruitment by individual scouts in Formica Oreas Wheeler (Hymenoptera, Formicidae). Insectes Soc, 30: p. 177-183.


3. Otis, G.W., Santana, C.E., Crawford, D.L., and Higgins, M.L., 1986. The effect of foraging army ants on leaf-litter arthropods. Biotropica, 18(1): p. 56-61.


4. Crawford, D.L., Constantino, H.R., and Powers, D.A., 1989. Lactate dehydrogenase-B cDNA from the teleost Fundulus heteroclitus: evolutionary implications. Molecular Biology & Evolution, 6(4): p. 369-383.


5. Crawford, D.L. and Powers, D.A., 1989. Molecular basis of evolutionary adaptation at the lactate dehydrogenase-B locus in the fish Fundulus heteroclitus. Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. U. S. A., 86(23): p. 9365-9369.


6. Powers, D.A., Lauerman, T., Crawford, D., and DiMichele, L., 1991.  Genetic mechanisms for adapting to a changing environment., in Annu Rev Genet, Campbell, A., Baker, B.S., and Jones, E.W., Editors.  Annual Rev. Inc. p. 629-659.


7. Crawford, D.L. and Powers, D.A., 1992. Evolutionary adaptation to different thermal environments via transcriptional regulation. Molecular Biology & Evolution, 9(5): p. 806-813.


8. Pierce, V.A. and Crawford, D.L., 1997. Phylogenetic analysis of glycolytic enzyme expression. Science, 276(5310): p. 256-259.


9. Podrabsky, J., E., Javillonar, C., Hand Steven, C., and Crawford, D., L., 2000. Intraspecific variation in aerobic metabolism and glycolytic enzyme expression in heart ventricles. American Journal of Physiology., 279(6 Part 2): p. R2344-R2348.


10. Oleksiak, M.F., Churchill, G.A., and Crawford, D.L., 2002. Variation in gene expression within and among natural populations. Nat Genet, 32(2): p. 261-266.


11. Cossins, A.R. and Crawford, D.L., 2005. Fish as models for environmental genomics. Nat Rev Genet, 6(4): p. 324-333.


12. Oleksiak, M.F., Roach, J.L., and Crawford, D.L., 2005. Natural variation in cardiac metabolism and gene expression in Fundulus heteroclitus. Nat Genet, 37(1): p. 67-72.


13. Whitehead, A. and Crawford, D., 2005. Variation in tissue-specific gene expression among natural populations. Genome Biology, 6(2): p. R13.11-13.14.


14. Whitehead, A. and Crawford, D.L., 2006. Neutral and adaptive variation in gene expression. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A, 103(14): p. 5425-5430.

15.           Crawford, D.L. and Oleksiak, M.F., 2007. The biological importance of measuring individual variation. J Exp Biol, 210(9): p. 1613-1621.


16. Rees, B.B., Andacht, T., Skripnikova, E., and Crawford, D.L., 2011. Population Proteomics: Quantitative Variation Within and Among Populations in Cardiac Protein Expression. Mol Biol Evol, 28: p. 1271-1279.


17. Bozinovic, G. and Oleksiak, M.F., 2010. Genomic approaches with natural fish populations from polluted environments. Environmental Toxicology and Chemistry, DOI: 10.1002/etc.403: p. eprint.


18. Crawford, D.L. and Oleksiak, M.F., 2007. The biological importance of measuring individual variation. Journal of Experimental Biology, 210(9): p. 1613-1621.


19. Crawford, D.L. and Powers, D.A., 1990.  Molecular Adaptation to the Thermal Environment: Genetic and Physiological Mechanisms., in Molecular Evolution: Proceeding of a UCLA Colloquium 1989, Clegg, M.T. and O'Brien, S.J., Editors.  Wiley-Liss: New York. p. 213-222.


20. Crawford, D.L., Segal, J.A., and Barnett, J.L., 1999. Evolutionary analysis of TATA-less proximal promoter function. Molecular Biology & Evolution, 16(2): p. 194-207.


21. Oleksiak, M., F. and Crawford Douglas, L., 2006.  Functional Genomics in Fishes, Insights into Physiological Complexity, in The Physiology of Fishes, Evan, D. and Claiborne, J., Editors.  CRC Press: Boca Raton. p. 523-550.


22. Oleksiak, M.F., Kolell, K., and Crawford, D.L., 2001. The utility of natural populations for microarray analyses: isolation of genes necessary for functional genomic studies. Marine Biotechnology, 3: p. S203-S211.


23. Williams, D.A., Brown, S.D., and Crawford, D.L., 2008. Contemporary and historical influences on the genetic structure of the estuarine-dependent Gulf killifish Fundulus grandis. Marine Ecology-Progress Series, 373: p. 111-121.


24. Williams, L.M. and Oleksiak, M.F., 2008. Signatures of selection in natural populations adapted to chronic pollution. BMC Evolutionary  Biology, 8: p. 282.


25. Hermisson, J. and Pennings, P.S., 2005. Soft sweeps: molecular population genetics of adaptation from standing genetic variation. Genetics, 169(4): p. 2335-2352.


26. Orr, H.A., 1998. The population genetics of adaptation - the distribution of factors fixed during adaptive evolution. Evolution, 52(4): p. 935-949.




28. Segal, J.A., Barnett, J.L., and Crawford, D.L., 1999. Functional analyses of natural variation in Sp1 binding sites of a TATA-less promoter. J Mol Evol, 49: p. 736-749.


29. Scott, C.P., Williams, D.A., and Crawford Douglas, L., 2009. The effect of genetic and environmental variation on gene expression Mol Ecol, 18: p. 2832-2843.


30. Whitehead, A. and Crawford, D.L., 2006. Variation within and among species in gene expression: raw material for evolution. Mol Ecol, 15(5): p. 1197-1211.


31. Paschall, J.E., Oleksiak, M.F., VanWye, J.D., Roach, J.L., Whitehead, J.A., Wyckoff, G.J., . . . Crawford, D.L., 2004. FunnyBase: a Systems Level Functional Annotation of Fundulus ESTs for the Analysis of Gene Expression. BMC Genomics, 5: p. 96.


32. Scott, C.P., VanWye, J., McDonald, M.D., and Crawford, D.L., 2009. Technical analysis of cDNA microarrays. PLoS ONE, 4(2): p. e4486. - Laboratory of Marine Genomics at the University of Miami

Principal Investigators: Dr. Marjorie Oleksiak & Dr. Douglas Crawford

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Updated: 2016