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James Morin

Professor Emeritus

Stimson Hall, Room 327

Educational Background

B.A. 1965, University of California, Santa Barbara

M.A. 1967, Harvard University

Ph.D. 1969, Harvard University


I primarily study the mechanisms and functions of bioluminescence in marine organisms. Since discovering luminescent courtship signaling in Caribbean ostracods in 1980, most of my research focuses on the behavior, functional morphology, systematics and evolution of luminescence in cypridinid ostracods. The complex luminescent signaling behavior involved in their sexual communication is the most complex known in the sea. We use in situ field observations, recordings and experiments of these luminescent ostracods; behavioral techniques to study sexual selection; and basic systematic methods (including light and electron microscopy) and phylogenetic methodologies to determine evolutionary patterns. I am also studying the luminescent courtship system in syllid polychaetes annelids. I have studied integrative behavior of the coordinating systems in coelenterates especially hydroids, symbiotic relationships between fishes with bacterial light organs and their bacterial symbionts, and the structure of dynamics of subtidal sand communities.


Invertebrate biology, bioluminescence, systematics, behavioral ecology, ostracods


  • Ecology and Evolutionary Biology

Graduate Fields

  • Ecology and Evolutionary Biology


  • Ecology and Evolutionary Biology


Gerrish, G. A. and J. G. Morin. 2016. Living in Sympatry via differentiation in time, space and display characters of courtship behaviors of bioluminescent marine ostracods.  Marine Biology 163: 163-190. DOI 10.1007/s00227-016-2960-5
Rivers, T. J. and J. G. Morin. 2013. Female ostracods respond to and intercept artificial conspecific male luminescent courtship displays. Behavioral Ecology 24 (4): 877-887. doi:10.1093/beheco/art022.
Rivers, T. J. and J. G. Morin. 2012. The relative cost of using luminescence for sex and defense: light budgets in cypridinid ostracods. Journal of Experimental Biology 215: 2860-2868. DOI 10.1242/jeb.072017 (with cover photo).

Morin, J. G. 2011. Based on a review of the data, use of the term 'cypridinid' solves the Cypridina/Vargula dilemma for naming the constituents of the luminescent system of ostracods in the family Cypridinidae.  Luminescence 26(1):1-4.

Morin, J. G. 2010. Our invisible close relatives.  American Paleontologist 18(4):23-25.

Cohen, A. C. and J. G. Morin. 2010. Two new bioluminescent Ostracod genera, Enewtonand Photeros (Myodocopida, Cypridinidae), and three new species from Jamaica.  Journal of Crustacean Biology 30(1):1-55.

Morin, J. G. and A. C. Cohen. 2010. It's all about sex: Bioluminescent courtship displays, morphological variation and sexual selection in two new genera of Caribbean ostracods.  Journal of Crustacean Biology 30(1):56-67.

Rivers, T. J. and J. G. Morin. 2009. Plasticity of alternative mating tactics of a marine bioluminescent ostracod.  Animal Behavior 78:723-734.

Gerrish, G. A., J. G. Morin, T. J. Rivers, and Z. Patrawala. 2009. Darkness as an ecological resource: the role of light in partitioning the nocturnal niche.  Oecologia 160:525-536.

Gerrish, G. A. and J. G. Morin. 2008. Life cycle of a bioluminescent marine ostracode,Vargula annecohenae (Cypridinidae, Myodocopida).  Journal of Crustacean Biology 28(4):669-674.

Rivers, T. J. and J. G. Morin. 2008. Complex sexual courtship displays by luminescent male marine ostracods.  Journal of Experimental Biology 211(14):2252-2262.

Torres, E. and J. G. Morin. 2007. Vargula annecohenae, a new species of bioluminescent ostracode (Myodocopida: Cypridinidae) from Belize.  Journal of Crustacean Biology 27(4):649-659.

Morin, J. G. 2007. Bioluminescence. In: M. Denny and S. Gaines (eds.), Encyclopedia of Tide Pools and Rocky Shores, pp. 87-91.

Cohen, A. C. and J. G. Morin. 2003. Sexual morphology, reproduction and the evolution of bioluminescence in Ostracoda. In: Paleontological Society Papers 9:37-70 (Chapter 4).

Hastings, J. W. and J. G. Morin. 1991. Bioluminescence. In: C. L. Prosser (ed.), Neural and integrative animal physiology [comparative animal physiology]. Wiley-Liss, Inc., Chapter 3, pp. 131-170.

Morin, J. G. and A. C. Cohen. 1991. Bioluminescent displays, courtship, and reproduction in Ostracodes. In: R. Bauer and J. Martin (eds.), Crustacean sexual biology. Columbia University Press, pp. 1-16.