Michael J. Hickerson


Chair: PhD Subprogram in Ecology, Evolutionary Biology, and Behavior Subprogram (EEB); The Graduate Center of the City University of New York

Main Affiliation



Marshak Science Building






Michael J. Hickerson


Dr. Hickerson focuses on developing and applying computational and statistical methods that merge population genetics with community ecology to answer questions about the interplay between climate change, shifting species distributions, species formation, extinction and changes in ecological interactions. Dr. Hickerson works across a range of empirical systems and develops multi-species population genetic models for community-scale inference.


Postdoctoral Fellow, UC Davis 2006
Postdoctoral Fellow, UC Berkeley 2004-2006
PhD Duke University, 1997-2003
M.S. Western Washington University, 1996-1997
B.S. The Evergreen State College 1993

Courses Taught

Biology 228 - Ecology and Evolution
Anthropological Genomics
Statistical Phylogeography
Seminar in Population Genomics


2020    Xue, A. T. and Hickerson, M. J. Comparative Phylogeographic Inference with Genome-wide Data from Aggregated Population-pairs. Evolution. in press
2020    Overcast, I., M. Ruffley, J. Rosindell, L. Harmon, P. A. V. Borges, B. C. Emerson, R. S. Etienne, R. Gillespie, H. Krehenwinkel, D. Luke Mahler, F. Massol, C. E. Parent, J. Patiño, B. Peter, B. Week, C. Wagner, M. J. Hickerson, and A. Rominger. . A unified model of species abundance, genetic diversity, and functional diversity reveals the mechanisms structuring ecological communities. bioRxiv, doi.org/10.1101/2020.01.30.927236.
2019    McGill, B. J., J. M. Chase, J. Hortal, I. Overcast, A. J. Rominger, J. Rosindell, P. A. V. Borges, B. C. Emerson, R. Etienne, M. J. Hickerson, D. L. Mahler, F. Massol, A. McGaughran, P. Neves, C. Parent, J. Patiño, M. Ruffley, C. E. Wagner, and R. Gillespie. Unifying macroecology and macroevolution to answer fundamental questions about biodiversity. Glob. Ecol. Biogeogr. 28:1925–1936.
2019    Olivares, G.V., J. Patiño, I. Overcast4 , A. Salces‐Castellano, U. López de Heredia, F. Mora‐Márquez, A. Machado, M. J. Hickerson, and B. C. Emerson. 2019. “A Topoclimate Model for Quaternary Insular Speciation.” Journal of Biogeography 42 (October): 133.
2019    Overcast, I., B. Emerson, and M. J. Hickerson. 2019. An Integrated Model of Population Genetics and Community Ecology. Journal of Biogeography. https://doi.org/10.1111/jbi.13541
2018    Alvarado-Serrano, D. F., and M. J. Hickerson. 2018. Detecting Spatial Dynamics of Range Expansions with Geo-Referenced Genome-Wide SNP Data and the Geographic Spectrum of Shared Alleles. bioRxiv. https:// doi: https://doi.org/10.1101/457556
2018    Beeravolu, C. R., M. J. Hickerson, L. A. F. Frantz, and K. Lohse. 2018. ABLE: Blockwise Site Frequency Spectra for Inferring Complex Population Histories and Recombination. Genome Biology 19 (1): 145.
2018     Xue4, A. T. , R. P. Ruggiero, M. J. Hickerson, and S. Boissinot. 2018. Differential Effect of Selection against LINE Retrotransposons among Vertebrates Inferred from Whole-Genome Data and Demographic Modeling. Genome Biol. Evol. 10:1265–1281. academic.oup.com.
2018     Thom, G., F. R. Amaral, M. J. Hickerson, A. Aleixo, L. E. Araujo-Silva, C. C. Ribas, E. Choueri, and C. Y. Miyaki. 2018. Phenotypic and Genetic Structure Support Gene Flow Generating Gene Tree Discordances in an Amazonian Floodplain Endemic Species. Syst. Biol., doi: 10.1093/sysbio/syy004. academic.oup.com.
2017    Emerson, B. C., Alvarado-Serrano, D. F. and Hickerson, M. J. ‘Comment on Rieux and Balloux: calibration from tip-dating can compromise topological accuracy and evolutionary inference’, Molecular ecology. Wiley Online Library, 26(10), pp. 2623–2624.
2017    Lipshutz S.E, Overcast I. A., Hickerson M.J., Brumfield R.T., Derryberry E.P.  (2017) ‘Behavioural response to song and genetic divergence in two subspecies of white-crowned sparrows (Zonotrichia leucophrys)’, Molecular ecology. Wiley Online Library, 26(11), pp. 3011–3027.
2017    Myers, E. A., Hickerson, M. J. and  Burbrink, F.T.  ‘Asynchronous diversification of snakes in the North American warm deserts’, Journal of biogeography. Wiley Online Library. Available at: https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/abs/10.1111/jbi.12873.
2017    Overcast, I., Bagley, J. C. and Hickerson, M. J. ‘Strategies for improving approximate Bayesian computation tests for synchronous diversification’, BMC evolutionary biology. BioMed Central, 17(1), p. 203.
2017    Xue, A. T. and Hickerson, M. J. ‘multi‐dice: r package for comparative population genomic inference under hierarchical co‐demographic models of independent single‐population size changes’, Molecular ecology resources. Wiley Online Library. Available at: https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/abs/10.1111/1755-0998.12686.
2016     Burbrink, F.T., Chan, Y.L., Myers, E.A., Ruane, S., Smith, B.T. and Hickerson, M.J. Asynchronous demographic responses to Pleistocene climate change in Eastern Nearctic vertebrates. Ecology Letters, 19(12), pp.1457-1467.
2016    Prates, I., Xue, A.T., Brown, J.L., Alvarado-Serrano, D.F., Rodrigues, M.T., Hickerson, M.J. and Carnaval, A.C. Inferring responses to climate dynamics from historical demography in neotropical forest lizards. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 113(29), pp.7978-7985.
2016     Joseph, T.A.1, M. J. Hickerson, D.F. Alavarado-Serrano. Demographic inference under a spatially continuous coalescent model. Heredity;117 (2), 94-99
2016    Brown, J. L., Weber, J. J., Alvarado-Serrano, D. F. 2, Hickerson, M. J., Franks, S. J., and Carnaval, A. C. Predicting the genetic consequences of future climate change: The power of coupling spatial demography, the coalescent, and historical landscape changes. American Journal of Botany, 103(1), 153-163.
2016     Harris, S. E., Xue, A. T. , Alvarado-Serrano, D. , Boehm, J. T. , Joseph, T.A. 5, Hickerson, M. J., and Munshi-South, J. Urbanization shapes the demographic history of a city-dwelling native rodent. Biology Letters; 12: 20150983
2015     Xue, A.T.  and M. J. Hickerson. The aggregate site frequency spectrum (aSFS) for comparative population genomic demographic inference. Molecular Ecology; 24 (24), 6223-6240.
2015     Emerson B.C., D.F. Alvarado‐Serrano2 and M.J. Hickerson.  Model misspecification confounds the estimation of rates and exaggerates their time dependency. Molecular Ecology; 24 (24): 6013-6020.
2015          Alvarado‐Serrano, D.F. 2, and M. J. Hickerson. Spatially explicit summary statistics for historical population genetic inference. Methods in Ecology and Evolution; doi: 10.1111/2041-210X.12489.
2015     Demos, T. C. , J. C. Kerbis Peterhans, T. A. Joseph, J. D. Robinson, B. Agwanda, and M. J. Hickerson. Comparative Population Genomics of African Montane Forest Mammals Support Population Persistence across a Climatic Gradient and Quaternary Climatic Cycles. PLoS One 10:e0131800. dx.plos.org.
2015     Boehm, J.T. , J. Waldman, J.D. Robinson2, and M.J. Hickerson. Population Genomics Reveals Seahorses (Hippocampus Erectus) of the Western Mid-Atlantic Coast to Be Residents Rather than Vagrants. PLoS One; 10 (1): e0116219.
2015     Emerson B.C. and M.J. Hickerson.  Lack of support for the time-dependent molecular evolution hypothesis. Molecular Ecology; 24, 702–709.
2014     M.J. Hickerson. All models are wrong. Molecular Ecology; 23, 2887–2889.
2014     J.D. Robinson, A. J. Coffman, M. J. Hickerson, and R. N. Gutenkunst. Sampling strategies for frequency spectrum-based population genomic inference. BMC Evolutionary Biology; 14 (1), 254.
2014     Smith, B. T., J. E. McCormack, A. M. Cuervo, M. J. Hickerson, A. Aleixo, C. D. Cadena, J. Pérez-Emán, C. W. Burney, X. Xie1, and M. G. Harvey. 2014. The drivers of tropical speciation. Nature; 515 (7527), 406-409. 
2014    J.D. Robinson2, L. Bunnefeld, J. Hearn, G.N. Stone, and M.J. Hickerson. ABC inference of multi‐population divergence with admixture from un‐phased population genomic data. Molecular Ecology; 23 (18), 4458-4471.
2014    Y.L. Chan, D. Schanzenbach, and M.J. Hickerson. Detecting concerted demographic response across community assemblages using hierarchical approximate Bayesian computation. Molecular Biology and Evolution; 31 (9), 2501-2515.
2014    T. C. Demos, J.C Kerbis-Peterhans, B. Agwanda, and M. J. Hickerson. Uncovering cryptic diversity and refugial persistence among small mammal lineages across the Eastern Afromontane biodiversity hotspot. Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution; 71: 41-54.
2014    M.J. Hickerson, G. N. Stone, K. Lohse, T. Demos, X. Xie, C. Landerer and N. Takebayashi. Recommendations for using msBayes to incorporate uncertainty in selecting an ABC model prior: A response to Oaks et al. Evolution; 68 (1) 284-294.  
2013    T. C. Demos, B. Agwanda, and M. J. Hickerson. Integrative taxonomy of the Hylomyscus denniae and H. anselli groups (Rodentia: Muridae) and description of a new species from western Kenya. Journal of Mammalogy; 95 (1) E1-E-15. 
2013 Boehm J.T, , L. Woodall, P. Teske, S. Lourie, J. Waldman, and M. J. Hickerson. Marine dispersal and barriers drive Atlantic seahorse diversification. Journal of Biogeography; doi: 10.1111/jbi.12127
2013 Waltari, E. and M.J. Hickerson. Late Pleistocene Species Distribution Modeling of North Atlantic Intertidal Invertebrates. Journal of Biogeography; 40: 249-260
2012 Stone, G.N., K. Lohse, J. A. Nicholls, P. Fuentes-Utrilla, F. Sinclair, K. Schönrogge, G. Csóka, G. Melika, J-L. Nieves-Aldrey, J. Pujade-Villar, M. Tavakoli, R. R. Askew and M. J. Hickerson. Reconstructing Community Assembly in Time and Space Reveals Enemy Escape in a Western Palearctic Insect Community. Current Biology; 22: 532-537
2012 Bell, R.C., J.B. MacKenzie, M.J. Hickerson, K.L. Chavarria, M. Cunningham, S. Williams, and C. Moritz. Comparative multi-locus phylogeography confirms multiple vicariance events in co-distributed rainforest frogs. Proc. R. Soc. B: doi: 10.1098/rspb.2011.1229
2011 Huang, W. , N. Takebayashi, Y. Qi and M. J. Hickerson, MTML-msBayes: Approximate Bayesian comparative phylogeographic inference from multiple taxa and multiple loci with rate heterogeneity. BMC Bioinformatics; doi:10.1186/1471-2105-12-1
2010 Ilves, K., W. Huang, J.P. Wares, and M. J. Hickerson. Colonization and⁄or mitochondrial selective sweeps across the North Atlantic intertidal assemblage revealed by multi-taxa approximate Bayesian computation. Molecular Ecology; 19: 4505-4519
2010 Beaumont, M., Nielsen, R, Robert, C., Hey, J., Gaggiotti, O., Knowles, L., Estoup, A., Panchal, M., Corander, Hickerson, M., Sisson, S., Fagundes, N., Chikhi, L., Beerli, P., Vitalis, R., Cornuet, J.-M., Huelsenbeck, J., M., Foll, M., Yang, Z., Rousset, F., Balding, D., and Excoffier, L., In defense of model-based inference in phylogeography (Reply: Templeton 2009). Molecular Ecology. doi: 10.1111/j.1365-294X.2009.04515.x
2010 Hickerson, M. J., B. C. Carstens, J. Cavender-Bares, K. A. Crandall, C. H. Graham, J. B. Johnson, L. Rissler, P. F. Victoriano, and A.D. Yoder. Phylogeography's past, present, and future: 10 years after Avise 2000. Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution;doi.org/10.1016/j.ympev.2009.09.016
2009 Lozier J. D., Aniello P., and M.J. Hickerson. Predicting the distribution of Sasquatch in western North America: anything goes with ecological niche modeling. Journal of Biogeography. 10.1111/j.1365-2699.2009.02152.x (press)
2009 Carnaval, A.C., M.J. Hickerson, C.F.B. Haddad, M.T. Rodrigues, and C. Moritz. Stability predicts genetic diversity in the Brazilian Atlantic forest hotspot. Science; 323: 785-789 (press)
2009 Waldman, J., R. Daniels, M. Hickerson, and I. Virgin. Mitochondrial DNA Analysis Indicates Sea Lampreys Are Indigenous to Lake Ontario: Response to Comment. Transactions of the American Fisheries Society; 138: 1190-1197. doi: 10.1577/T08-035R.1
2008 Hickerson, M.J., and C.P. Meyer. Testing comparative phylogeographic models of marine vicariance and dispersal using a hierarchical Bayesian approach. BMC Evolutionary Biology. 8: 322. doi:10.1186/1471-2148-8-322.
2008 Riddle, B.R. M.N. Dawson, E.A. Hadley, D.J.Hafner, M.J. Hickerson, S.J. Mantooth, and A.D. Yoder. The role of molecular genetics in sculpting the future of integrative biogeography. Progress in Physical Geography.32: 173-202.
2007 Rosenblum, E., M.J. Hickerson, and C. Moritz. A multilocus perspective on colonization accompanied by selection and gene flow.Evolution. 61: 2917-2985
2007 A. Leaché, S.A. Crews and M.J. Hickerson. Two waves of diversification in mammals and reptiles of Baja California revealed by hierarchical Bayesian analysis. Biology Letters. 3:646-650
2007 Hickerson, M.J., E. Stahl, and N. Takebayashi. msBayes: A flexible pipeline for comparative phylogeographic inference using approximate Bayesian computation (ABC). BMC Bioinformatics. 8:268.
2006. Hickerson, M.J., E, Stahl, and H.A. Lessios. Test for simultaneous divergence using approximate Bayesian computation. Evolution 60: 2435-2453.
2006 Stöck, M, C. Moritz, M.J. Hickerson, D. Frynta, T. Dujsebayeva, V. Eremchenko, J. R. Macey, T. Papenfuss, and D. Wake. Evolution of mitochondrial relationships and biogeography of palearctic green toads (Bufo viridis subgroup) with insights into their genomic plasticity. Mol. Phy. Evol. 41:663-689
2006. Hickerson, M.J., C. W. Cunningham. Nearshore fish (Pholis gunnellus) persists across the North Atlantic through multiple glacial episodes. Molecular Ecology 15: 4095-4107.
2006. Hickerson, M.J., C. Meyer, and C. Moritz. DNA-barcoding will fail to discover new animal species over broad parameter space. Systematic Biology 55:729-739.
2006. Hickerson, M.J., G. Dolman, and C. Moritz. Phylogeographic summary statistics for testing simultaneous vicariance. Molecular Ecology15: 209-23.
2005. Hickerson M.J. C. W. Cunningham. Contrasting Quaternary histories in an ecologically divergent pair of low-dispersing intertidal fish (Xiphister) revealed by multi-locus DNA analysis. Evolution 59: 344-360.
2004. Riginos, C., M.J. Hickerson, C. Henzler, and C. W. Cunningham. Differential patterns of male and female trans-Atlantic gene flow in the blue mussel, Mytilus edulis. Evolution 58: 2438-2451.
2004. Satta, Y., M.J. Hickerson, H. Watanabe, C.O. O'hUigin, and J. Klein. Ancestral population sizes and species divergence times in the primate lineage on the basis of intron BAC end sequences. Journal of Molecular Evolution 59: 478-487
2003. Hickerson, M.J., M. Gilchrist, and N. Takebayashi. Calibrating a molecular clock from Phylogeographic data: moments and likelihood estimators. Evolution 57: 2216-2225.
2001. Hickerson, M.J., and J. R. P. Ross. Post-glacial population history and genetic structure of the northern clingfish (Gobbiesox maeandricus), revealed from mtDNA analysis. Marine Biology 138: 407-419.
2000 Hickerson, M.J., and C. W. Cunningham. Dramatic mitochondrial gene rearrangements in the hermit crab Pagurus longicarpus (Crustacea, Anomura). Molecular Biology and Evolution 17: 639-644.

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