John Rowe

I have been on faculty at Alma College in the capacity of a vertebrate biologist since 2002. The courses that I teach span across many areas of an animal’s phenotype including behavior, physiology, and morphology.

My research focus has historically involved the reproductive and population ecology, thermal biology, and morphology of freshwater turtles and semi-aquatic snakes. More recently, I have expanded my interests to include the spatial ecology of sea turtles and the spatial, social, and thermal ecology of lava lizards on Galápagos, Ecuador. During the summer months, I maintain an active research program at the Alma College Biological Station that involves summer undergraduate student participation.


Professor & Chair of Biology


Biology-Ecology & Evolutionary Biology

Educational Background

  • Ph.D., Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, University of Nebraska-Lincoln (1992)
  • M.S., Zoology, Eastern Illinois University (1987)
  • B.S.. Biology, Central Michigan University (1985)

I am...

As a professor of biology at an undergraduate institution, my focus has been on “student-centered” learning experiences. In my courses, I attempt to maintain current and progressive pedagogies that encourage student participation during classes and laboratories and that provide a learning platform for independent study and learning. I extensively use our “learning management system” platform called “Canvas”. On Canvas, I post all course-related materials for easy student access. I believe that a firm understanding of how to do science is an important aspect of becoming a biologist. To that end, I emphasize experimental design, data collection and analysis, tabular and graphical presentation of results, and interpretation and explanation of data in written and oral formats.


Professor of Biology

My career at Alma began in


I'm an expert in

Ecology and evolution of reptiles.

My expertise:

Ecology, behavior, morphology, and physiology of reptiles, primarily turtles, snakes, and lizards.

Signature course(s):

BIO 207-Comparative and Environmental Physiology of Animals (w/lab); BIO 302-Ecology (w/lab); BIO 305- Comparative Vertebrate Anatomy; BIO 309- Aquatic Biology; BIO 380- Biodiversity and Ecology of a Hawaiian Coral Reef; BIO 490- Senior Capstone Experience

Recent publications:

Rowe, J.W., T.M. Goerge, C.E. Martin, and W.P. Mulligan. 2022. Thermal ecology of Northern Water Snakes (Nerodia sipedon) in a northern wetland in central Michigan. Journal of Thermal Biology 105: 103204.

Rowe, J.W., C.E. Martin, D.L. Clark, T.M. Goerge, and W.P. Mulligan. 2021. Thermal ecology of the Pacific Knobbed Iguana (Microlophus occipitalis Peters, 1871) in a sand dune habitat of western Ecuador. Herpetology Notes 14:1305-1311.

Perry, G., E. Muths, M.L. Crump, C. Distel, R.W. Hansen, M.B. Harvey, J. Rowe, S.C. Walls, and S. Woodley. 2020. Increasing diversity and inclusivity in herpetology: small but critical steps from the editors of herpetological journals. Herpetological Review 51:765-766.

Rowe, J.W., C.E. Martin, D.L. Clark, and C. Valle-Castillo. 2020. Diel and seasonal variations in the thermal biology of San Cristobal Lava Lizards (Microlophus bivittatus). Journal of Thermal Biology 88:102518.

Rowe, J.W., W.P. Mulligan, C.E. Martin, T.M. Goerge, and M.A. Bunce. 2020. Spatial and thermal ecology of Snapping Turtles (Chelydra serpentina) in a small, dystrophic lake in central Michigan. Chelonian Conservation and Biology 19:22–35.

Macedonia, J.M., D.L. Clark, M.R. Fonley, I. Centurione, J.W. Rowe, and C.A. Valle. 2019. Analysis of Bobbing Displays in Four Species of Galápagos Lava Lizards Using Conventional and Novel Quantitative Methods. Herpetologica 75:290–300.

David L. Clark, D.L., J.M. Macedonia, J.W. Rowe, M.R. Austin, I.M. Centurione, and C.A. Valle. 2019. Galápagos Lava Lizards (Microlophus bivittatus) respond dynamically to displays from interactive conspecific robots. Behavioral Ecology and Sociobiology 73:136.

Rowe, J.W., C.E. Martin, D.L. Clark, C. Valle-Castillo, and C. Vintemilla. 2019. Habitat use and spatial and ecology of three lizards of the genus Microlophus from Ecuador. Herpetological Review 50:43-51.

Rowe, J.W., M.L. Nawrot, and D.L. Clark. 2017. Thermoregulation in a north temperate population of Midland Painted Turtles (Chrysemys picta marginata): Temporal patterns and intersexual differences. Copeia 105:765-780.

Clark, D.L., J.M. Macedonia, J.W. Rowe, K. Kamp, and C.A. Valle. 2017. Responses of Galápagos Lava Lizards (Microlophus bivittatus) to manipulation of female nuptial coloration on lizard robots. Herpetologica 72: 47-54.

Moore, J.A., J.W. Rowe, D. Wessels, M. Plivelich, and C. Valle. 2017. Microlophus bivittatus (San CristĂłbal Lava Lizard). Diet. Herpetological Review 48:851.

Rowe, J.W., C.E. Martin, K.R. Kamp, and D.L. Clark. 2017. Spectral reflectance of Blanding’s Turtle (Emydoidea blandingii) and substrate color-Induced melanization in laboratory-reared turtles. Herpetological Conservation and Biology: 12:576–584.

Rowe, J.W., and Olivia Horton. 2017. Space use area overlap within and among individuals and the effects of weather patterns and sex on daily movements in Emydoidea blandingii at two central Michigan localities. Herpetological Review 48:526–531.

Recent presentations:

2021- Thermal ecology of Northern Water Snakes (Nerodia sipedon) in a northern wetland in central Michigan. at the Joint Meetings of Ichthyologists and Herpetologists, Phoenix Arizona, oral presentation.

2019- Thermal Ecology of the San Cristóbal Lava Lizard (Microlophus bivittatus). at the Fourth Symposium of Research and Conservation. San Cristóbal, Galápagos, Ecuador, oral presentation.

2018- Spatial and Thermal Ecology of Common Snapping Turtles (Chelydra serpentina) in a Mid-Michigan Lake and its Associated Wetlands. Joint Meeting of Ichthyologists and Herpetologists, Rochester, NY, poster presentation.

2017- Habitat Use and Spatial and Thermal Ecology of Two Species of Lava Lizards (Microlophus) on Islas Santa Cruz and San Cristóbal, Galápagos. Joint Meeting of Ichthyologists and Herpetologists, Austin, Texas, poster presentation.