Donald Spalinger

Donald Spalinger

Biological Sciences
EBL 124


  • B.S. Humboldt State University, 1974
  • M.S. University of Nevada, Reno, 1980
  • Ph.D. Washington State University, 1985

Research Interests

My research focuses on the ecology, chemistry, and physiology of plants and herbivores. I am particularly interested in the nutritional ecology of large herbivores in northern ecosystems, including moose, caribou, and black-tailed deer. To understand how habitats and plant communities influence the survival and productivity of these animals, my research explores a diversity of topics. These include studies of nutritional qualities of plants, plant defensive chemistry, plant architecture and its influence on foraging behavior and food intake rate of herbivores, the digestive physiology of herbivores, foraging behavior, and biological simulation modeling.


  • Spalinger, D. E. , W. B. Collins, T. A. Hanley, N. E. Casara, and A. M. Carnahan. 2010. The impact of tannins on protein, dry matter, and energy digestion in moose (Alces alces gigas). Canadian Journal of Zoology 88: 977-987.
  • McArt, S.H., D. E. Spalinger, W.B. Collins, and E.R. Schoen, T. Stevenson, and M. Bucho. 2009. Summer nitrogen availability as a potential nutritional constraint on moose in South-Central Alaska. Ecology 90: 1400-1411.
  • McArt, S. H., D. E. Spalinger, K.M. Kennish, and W.B. Collins. 2006. A modified method for determining tannin-protein precipitation capacity using accelerated solvent extraction (ASE) and microplate gel filtration. Journal of Chemical Ecology 32: 1367-1377.
  • Hobbs, N. T., J. E. Gross, L. A. Shipley, D. E. Spalinger, and B. A. Wunder. 2003. Herbivore functional response in heterogeneous environments: a contest among models. Ecology 84:666-681.
  • Cooper, S.M., M.K. Owens, D.E. Spalinger, and T.F. Ginnett. 2003. The architecture of shrubs after defoliation and the subsequent feeding behavior of browsers. Oikos 100: 387-393 
  • Shipley, L. A., A. W. Illius, K. Danell, N. T. Hobbs, and D. E. Spalinger. 1999. Predicting bite size selection of mammalian herbivores: a test of a general model of diet optimization. Oikos 84: 55-68.
  • Etzenhouser, M. J., M. K. Owens, D. E. Spalinger, and S. B. Murden. 1998. Foraging behavior of browsing ruminants in a heterogeneous landscape. Landscape Ecology 13:55-64. 
  • Spalinger, D. E. , S. M. Cooper, D. J. Martin, and L. A. Shipley. 1997. Is social learning an important influence on foraging behavior in white-tailed deer? Journal of Wildlife Management 61:611-621.
  • Shipley, L. A., D. E. Spalinger, J. E. Gross, N. T. Hobbs, and B. A. Wunder. 1996. The dynamics and scaling of foraging velocity and encounter rate in mammalian herbivores. Functional Ecology 10:234-244. 
  • Gross, J. E., C. Zank, N. T. Hobbs, and D. E. Spalinger. 1995. Movement rules for herbivores in spatially heterogeneous environments: responses to small scale pattern. Landscape Ecology 10:209-217. 
  • Robbins, C. T., D. E. Spalinger, and W. Van Hoven. 1995. Adaptation of ruminants to browse and grass diets: are anatomical-based browser-grazer interpretations valid? Oecologia 103:208-213.
  • Shipley, L. A., and D. E. Spalinger. 1995. Influence of size and density of browse patches on intake rates and foraging decisions of young moose and white-tailed deer. Oecologia 104:112-121. 
  • Shipley, L. A., J. E. Gross, D. E. Spalinger, N. T. Hobbs, and B. A. Wunder. 1994. The scaling of intake rate in mammalian herbivores. American Naturalist 143:1055-1082.
  • Gross, J. E., L. A. Shipley, N. T. Hobbs, D. E. Spalinger, and B. A. Wunder. 1993. Functional response of herbivores in food-concentrated patches: tests of a mechanistic model. Ecology 74:778-791. 
  • Spalinger, D. E. , C. T. Robbins, and T. A. Hanley. 1993. Adaptive rumen function in elk (Cervus elaphus nelsoni ) and mule deer (Odocoileus hemionus hemionus ). Canadian Journal of Zoology 71:601-610.
  • Shipley, L. A., and D. E. Spalinger. 1992. Mechanics of browsing in dense food patches: effects of plant and animal morphology on intake rate. Canadian Journal of Zoology 70:1743-1752. 
  • Spalinger, D. E. , and N. T. Hobbs. 1992. Mechanisms of foraging in mammalian herbivores: new models of functional response. American Naturalist 140:325-348.
  • Spalinger, D. E. , and C. T. Robbins. 1992. The dynamics of particle flow in the rumen of mule deer (Odocoileus hemionus hemionus) and elk (Cervus elaphus nelsoni). Physiological Zoology 65:379-402.
  • Spalinger, D. E. , T. Hanley, and C. Robbins. 1988. Analysis of the functional response in foraging in the sitka black-tailed deer. Ecology 69:1166-1175.
  • Spalinger, D., C. Robbins, and T. Hanley. 1986. The assessment of handling time in ruminants: the effect of plant chemical and physical structure on the rate of breakdown of plant particles in the rumen of mule deer and elk. Canadian Journal of Zoology 64:312-321.
  • Hanley, T. A., D. E. Spalinger, K. A. Hanley, and J. W. Schoen. 1985. Relationships between fecal and rumen analyses for deer diet assessments in Southeastern Alaska. Northwest Science 59:10-16.
  • Wickstrom, M., C. Robbins, T. Hanley, D. Spalinger, and S. Parish. 1984. Food intake and foraging energetics of elk and mule deer. Journal of Wildlife Management 48:1285-1301