Tonia S. Schwartz                           

Auburn University
Department of Biological Sciences
101 Rouse Life Science 
Auburn, AL 36849
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Reseach Focus

How an individual perceives environmental stress (e.g. social, physiological, nutritional, toxins) and responds at the molecular level (genetic and cellular changes), can affect how that individual behaves, its ability to reproduce, and its lifespan. My research integrates environmental variation, molecular networks, and life history to investigate how organisms respond to their environment at the individual level (plasticity and acclimation) and how this response can evolve across populations and across species. I am currently working on projects that address the following questions: 1) How do gene networks that link physiological stress and life-history traits evolve? 2) What is the persistence (transient, lifetime, or transgenerational) of epigenetic modification to the genome in response to physiological stress in ectotherms, and do these modifications play a role in adaptive acclimation within and across generations.

Brief Bio
  • 2015 - Current: Assistant Professor. Auburn University, Department of Biological Sciences

  • 2013 – 2015: James S. McDonnell Post-doctoral Fellow in Complexity Science. Advisor: Dr. David Allison, University of Alabama at Birmingham. Project Title: Evolution of Molecular Stress Networks and Complex Traits.

  • 2007-2012: PhD in Genetics. Advisors: Drs. Anne Bronikowski and Jo Anne Powell-Coffman, Iowa State University, Ames, Iowa, U.S.A Dissertation Title: The evolution of stress response and life history traits in natural populations of garter snakes.

    • 2010-11: National Science Foundation GK-12 fellow, growing Iowa’s scientists for a greener tomorrow.

    • 2007-09: National Science Foundation IGERT fellow in Computational Molecular Biology

  • 2002-2005: Research Employment

    • 2005-2007: Lab Manager and Research Assistant at University of Wollongong, Australia. Dr. Mats Olsson; pedigree-based sexual selection in natural populations of lizards.

    • 2004-2005: Research Assistant at University of Sydney, Australia. Dr. Frank Seebacher; molecular evolution of metabolic proteins and the transition from ecothermy to endothermy.

    • 2003-2004: Research Assistant at Macquarie University, Australia. Dr. Luciano Beheregary; hybridization and speciation in fishes and fisheries management.

    • 2002-2003: Research Scientist at Florida Marine Research Institute. St. Petersburg, Florida; population genetics and fisheries management.

  • 1999-2003: MS in Zoology, Advisor: Dr. Stephen Karl, University of South Florida, Tampa, emphasis in Evolutionary Genetics, Molecular Ecology, and Conservation Genetics. Thesis Title: Population Structure of the gopher tortoise (Gopherus polyphemus) in Florida, using microsatellites.

  • 1998-1999: Women in Science and Engineering Undergraduate Internship. Dr. Carol Vleck; molecular sexing of Adélie penguins.

  • 1994-1998 BS in Zoology, minor in Genetics, Iowa State University, Ames, Iowa, U.S.A.Graduated ‘With Distinction’.

    • 1998: Undergraduate Research Assistantship. Dr. Bonnie Bowen; conservation genetics of Mexican Jays.


  • Publication summary:

    • 1 book chapter

    • 40 manuscripts published in peer-reviewed journal articles

    • 4 non-peer reviewed research reports

2010 - present

2010 - present

Publications                                Link to my Google Scholar Page
Book chapters

Schwartz, TS and AM Bronikowski. 2011. Molecular Stress Pathways and the Evolution of Life Histories in Reptiles. In Flatt & Heyland (Eds) Molecular Mechanisms of Life History Evolution, Oxford University Press.

Peer-Review Publications

40. McGaugh, S, TS Schwartz. 2017. Here and there, but not everywhere: repeated loss of uncoupling protein 1 in amniotes. Biology Letters 13(1): 20160749.  doi: 10.1098/rsbl.2016.0749

39. Schwartz, TS, P Pearson, J Dawson,  DB Allison, JM Gohlke. 2016. Effects of fluctuating temperature and food availability on reproduction and lifespan. Experimental Gerontology. 86: 62-72.   doi: 10.1016/j.exger.2016.06.010

38. Reding, DM, EA Addis, MG Palacios, TS Schwartz, AM Bronikowski. 2016. Environmental and genetic effects on insulin-like signaling and postnatal growth in garter snakes with divergent life histories. General and Comparative Endocrinology. 233: 88-99. doi: 10.1016/j.ygcen.2016.05.018

37. Schwartz, TS, AM Bronikowski. 2016. Evolution and Function of the Insulin and Insulin-like Signaling Network in Ectothermic Reptiles: Some Answers and More Questions? Integrative and Comparative Biology. 56(2): 171-184.

36. Schwartz, TS, Z Arendsee , AM Bronikowski. 2015. Mitochondrial divergence between slow- and fast-aging garter snakes.
Experimental Gerontology. 71:135-146.  doi: 10.1016/j.exger.2015.09.004

35.  McGaugh SE, AM Bronikowski, C-H Kuo, DM Reding, EA Addis, LE Flagel, FJ Janzen, TS Schwartz. 2015. Rapid molecular evolution across amniotes of the IIS/TOR network. PNAS doi: 10.1073/pnas.1419659112​


34. Schwartz, TS, S Carter, JM Wyss, MS Johnson, ED Dohm, R Gainer, and DB Allison. 2015. Second-hand eating? Perception of the food environment affects reproductive investment in mice. Obesity. doi: 10.1002/oby.21047


33. Schwartz TS and Bronikowski AM. In Press. Gene expression of components of the insulin/insulin-like signaling pathway in response to heat stress in the garter snake, Thamnophis elegans. Iowa Academy of Science.


32.  Allison, DB, LH Antoine, SW Ballinger, MM Bamman, P Biga, VM Darley-Usmar, G Fisher, JM Gohlke, GV Halade, JV Hartman, GR Hunter, JL Messina, TR Nagy, EP Plaisance, ML Powell, KA Roth, MW Sandel, TS Schwartz, DL Smith, JD Sweatt, TO Tollefsbol, SA Watts, Y Yang, J Zhang, and SN Austad, 2014. Aging and Energetics ‘Top 40’ Future Research Opportunities 2010-2013.  F1000Research 3:219  DOI: 10.12688/f1000research.5212.1


31. Uller. T, T Schwartz, T Koglin, M Olsson. 2013. Sperm storage and sperm competition across ovarian cycles in the dragon lizard, Ctenopherus fordi. Journal of Experimental Zoology. 319A:404-408.


30. Ungvari, D, D Sosnowska, JB Mason, H Gruber, SW Lee, TS Schwartz, et al. 2013. Resistance to genotoxic stresses in Arctica islandica, the longest living noncolonial animal: is extreme longevity associated with a multistress resistance phenotype? The Journals of Gerontology Series A: Biological Sciences and Medical Sciences. 69(5): 521-529 DOI: 10.1093/gerona/gls193


29. Abramyan, J, DBadenhorst, KK Biggar, GM Borchert, CW Botka, RM Bowden, et al. (58 authors). 2013. The western painted turtle genome, a model for the evolution of extreme physiological adaptations in a slowly evolving lineage. Genome Biology 14(3): DOI:10.1186/GB-2013-14-3-R28.


28. Schwartz, TS, and AM Bronikowski. 2013. Dissecting molecular stress networks: identifying nodes of divergence between life-history phenotypes. Molecular Ecology. 22(3): 739-756 DOI: 10.1111/j.1365-294X.2012.05750.x


27. Sparkman, AM*, TS Schwartz*, J Madden, SE Boyken, JM Serb, NB Ford, and AM Bronikowski. 2012. Evolutionary rates vary among reptiles for insulin-like growth factor-1 (IGF-1), a pleiotropic locus involved in life history traits. General and Comparative Endocrinology. 178(1): 164-173.


26. Olsson, M, T Schwartz, E Wapstra, T Uller, B Ujvari, T Madsen, and R Shine. 2011. Climate change, multiple paternity and offspring survival in lizards. Evolution 65: 3323-3326.


25. Schwartz, TS, C Perrin, E Wapstra, T Uller, and M Olsson. 2011. Complex selection associated with Hox genes in a natural population of lizards. Journal of Evolutionary Biology 24:2520-2524.


24. Olsson, M, A Pauliny, E Wapstra, T Uller, T Schwartz and D Blomqvist. 2011. Sexual differences in telomere selection in the wild. Molecular Ecology 20: 2085-2099


23. Shaddick, K, C Burridge, D Jerry, T Schwartz, K Truong, D Gilligan, and L Beheregaray. 2011. A hybrid zone and bi-directional introgression between the catadromous species: Australian bass and estuary perch. Journal of Fish Biology. 79: 1214-1235.


22. Olsson, M, A Pauliny, E Wapstra, T Uller, T Schwartz and D Blomqvist. 2011. Sex Differences in Sand Lizard Telomere Inheritance: Paternal Epigenetic Effects Increases Telomere Heritability and Offspring Survival. PLoS ONE 6: e17473.


21. Olsson, M, E Wapstra, T Schwartz, T Madsen, B Ujvari, T Uller and R Shine. 2011. In hot pursuit: fluctuating mating system and sexual selection in sand lizards. Evolution. 65(2): 574-53


20. Schwartz, TS*, H Tae*, Y Yang, K Mockaitis, JL Van Hemert, SR Proulx, J-H Choi, and AM Bronikowski. 2010. A garter snake transcriptome: pyrosequencing, de novo assembly, and sex-specific differences. BMC Genomics. 11: 694-715.


19. Atwell, C, G Holwell, TS Schwartz, K Umbers, A Stow, M Herberstein and L Beheregaray. 2009. Microsatellite markers for the praying mantid Ciulfina rentzi (Liturgusidae). Molecular Ecology Resources. 9(6): 1480-82.


18. Olsson, M, T Schwartz, T Uller and M Healey. 2009. Effects of sperm storage and male colour on probability of paternity in a polychromatic lizard. Animal Behaviour 77:419-424.


17. Corrigan, S, C Huveneers, TS Schwartz, RG Harcourt and LB Beheregaray. 2008. Genetic and reproductive evidence for two species of ornate wobbegong shark on the Australian East Coast. Journal of Fish Biology 73: 1662-1675.


16. Schwartz, TS, S Murray and F Seebacher. 2008. Novel reptilian uncoupling proteins: molecular evolution and gene expression during cold acclimation. Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences 275: 979-985.


15. Schwartz, TS and LB Beheregaray. 2008. Using genotype simulations and Bayesian analyses to identify individuals of hybrid origin in Australian bass: lessons for fisheries management. Journal of Fish Biology 72: 435-450.


14. Schwartz, T and M Olsson. 2008. Microsatellite markers developed for a Swedish population of sand lizard (Lacerta agilis). Conservation Genetics 9:715-717. Erratum 9:719-721.


13. Schwartz, TS and SA Karl. 2008. Population genetic assignment of confiscated gopher tortoises. Journal of Wildlife Management 72: 254-259.


12. Olsson, M, E Wapstra, M Healey, T Schwartz and T Uller. 2008. Selection on space use in a polymorphic lizard. Evolutionary Ecology Research 10:621-627.


11. Schwartz, TS, DA Warner, LB Beheregaray and M Olsson. 2007. Microsatellite loci for Australian agamid lizards. Molecular Ecology Notes 7: 528-531.


10. Olsson, M, T Schwartz, T Uller and M Healey. 2007. Sons are made from old stores: sperm storage effects on sex ratio in a lizard. Biology Letters 3: 491-493.


9. Olsson, M, M Healey, E Wapstra, T Schwartz, N Lebas and T Uller. 2007. Mating system variation and morph fluctuations in a polymorphic lizard. Molecular Ecology 16: 5307-5315.


8. Seebacher, F, TS Schwartz and MB Thompson. 2006. Transition from ectothermy to endothermy: the development of metabolic capacity in a bird (Gallus gallus). Proceedings of the Royal Society B-Biological Sciences 273: 565-570.


7. Schwartz, TS, and SA Karl. 2005. Population and conservation genetics of the gopher tortoise (Gopherus polyphemus). Conservation Genetics 6: 917-928.


6. Schwartz, TS., F Jenkins and LB Beheregaray. 2005. Microsatellite DNA markers developed for the Australian bass (Macquaria novemaculeata) and their cross-amplification in estuary perch (Macquaria colonorum). Molecular Ecology Notes 5: 519-520.


5. Roberts, MA, TS Schwartz and SA Karl. 2004. Global population genetic structure and male-mediated gene flow in the green sea turtle (Chelonia mydas): analysis of microsatellite loci. Genetics 166: 1857-1870.


4. Beheregaray, LB, TS Schwartz, LM Moller, D Call, NL Chao and A Caccone. 2004a. A set of microsatellite DNA markers for the one-lined pencilfish Nannostomus unifasciatus, an Amazonian flooded forest fish. Molecular Ecology Notes 4: 333-335.


3. Beheregaray, LB, LM Moller, TS Schwartz, NL Chao and A Caccone. 2004b. Microsatellite markers for the cardinal tetra Paracheirodon axelrodi, a commercially important fish from central Amazonia. Molecular Ecology Notes 4: 330-332.


2. Seminoff, JA, SA Karl, T Schwartz and A Resendiz. 2003. Hybridization of the green turtle (Chelonia mydas) and hawksbill turtle (Eretmochelys imbricata) in the Pacific Ocean: Indication of an absence of gender bias in the directionality of crosses. Bulletin of Marine Science 73: 643-652.


1. Schwartz, TS, M Osentoski, T Lamb and SA Karl. 2003. Microsatellite loci for the North American tortoises (genus Gopherus) and their applicability to other turtle species. Molecular Ecology Notes 3: 283-286. 

Non-Peer Reviewed Reports
Beheregaray, LB, and TS Schwartz, 2011. Chapter 6: Taxonomic assessment of Australian bass and estuary perch, pp. 57-60 in Fisheries Victoria Research Report Series: Freshwater fish resources in the Snowy River, Victoria. Edited by W. Fulton and K. Hall. Fisheries Victoria, Department of Primary Industries, Victoria, Australia.
Schwartz, TS 2003. Genetic population structure of the gopher tortoise (Gopherus polyphemus) in Florida using microsatellites. 
Masters of Science Thesis, University of South Florida.Schwartz, TS and T Bert. 2003. Preliminary assessment of the genetic structure of vermilion snapper (Rhomboplites aurorubens). Special Report to the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission. FMRI Report Number IHR2003-007.
Schwartz, TS, M Tringali, T Bert, R Nostrom, JE Reynolds, III. 2002. Assessment of a novel approach to obtain genetic specimens from free-ranging manatees. Mote Marine Laboratory Technical Report to Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission.