University of Vermont

The College of Arts and Sciences

Department of Biology

Faculty - Charles J. Goodnight


Charles J. Goodnight, Professor

  • Ph.D., University of Chicago, 1983
  • University of Illinois at Chicago 83-86, Postdoctoral Research Associate
  • University of Illinois at Chicago 86-88, Visiting Assistant Professor
  • University of Vermont, Assistant Professor 88-94, Associate Professor 94 - present, Full Professor 99 - present
  • CV (PDF)
Area of expertise

population genetics

Contact Information
Email: Charles J. Goodnight

Office Hours: Not available this semester (Fall 2016)
Marsh Life Science Building, Rm 115


I study genetic differentiation and evolution in structured populations. My research combines theoretical and experimental approaches to study the effects of selection among individuals, populations and communities. One of my major areas of interest is how certain types of genetic variation, such as epistatic interactions among loci, can contribute to a response to selection in a subdivided population even though they cannot contribute to a response to selection in a large panmictic population. My current research includes (1) the effect of founder events and population structure on genetic variance, (2) theoretical and experimental studies of multilevel selection, and (3) evolution and speciation in spatially structured populations. The techniques I use are drawn from the field of quantiative genetics and molecular quantitative genetics. My experimental work uses the resemblance among relatives and the response to selection to study the genetic basis of complex traits. My theoretical work uses statistical and quantitative genetic methods to study evolution in subdivided populations.

Selected Publication

  • Goodnight, C. J. 2015.  Multilevel selection theory and evidence:  A critique of Gardner, 2015.  Journal of Evolutionary Biology 28:1734-1746.
  • Pruitt, J. N., C. J. Goodnight 2015.  Pruitt and Goodnight Reply.  Nature 524:E4-E5
  • Goodnight, C. J. 2015.  Long-term selection experiments:  Epistasis and the response to selection.  In:  Epistasis: Methods and protocols, J. H. Moore, S. M. Williams (eds).  Chapter 1, pp 1-18.
  • Pruitt J. N. and C. J. Goodnight. 2014. Site-specific group selection drives locally adapted group compositions.  Nature 514:359-362
  • Goodnight, C. J. 2013.  Chapter 2: Defining the Individual. pp. 37-54 In: From Groups to Individuals; Frédéric Bouchard and Philippe Huneman eds.  MIT Press.
  • Goodnight, C. J. 2013.  On multilevel selection and kin selection:  Contextual analysis meets direct fitness.  Evolution 67:1539-1548
  • Mitteldorf, J, C. J. Goodnight, 2013. Post-Reproductive Life Span and Demographic Stability, Biochemistry (Moscow) 78:1013-1022.
  • Goodnight, C. J. 2012. On multilevel selection and kin selection: Contextual analysis meets direct fitness. Evolution (Early published on line DOI: 10.1111/j.1558-5646.2012.01821.x)
  • Goodnight, C. J. 2012. Wright’s shifting balance theory and factors affecting the probability of peak shifts. In: The adaptive landscape in evolutionary biology; Erik Svensson and Ryan Calsbeek eds. Oxford University Press. Chapter 6, pp. 74-86.
  • Mitteldorf, J, C. J. Goodnight, 2012 Post-Reproductive Life Span and Demographic Stability, Oikos 121:1370-1378.
  • Franks, Steven J., Gregory S. Wheeler, C. J. Goodnight 2012. Genetic variation and evolution of secondary compounds in native and introduced populations of the invasive plant Melaleuca quinquenervia. Evolution 66:1398-1412
  • Higgins, L., J. Coddington, C. Goodnight and M. Kuntner. 2011. Testing ecological and developmental hypotheses of mean and variation in adult size in nephilid orb-weaving spiders. Journal of Evolutionary Ecology 25:1289-1306.
  • Brandvain, Y., C. J. Goodnight and M. J. Wade 2011. Horizontal transmission rapidly erodes disequilibria between organelle and symbiont genomes. Genetics 189: 397-404.
  • Higgins, L. and C. Goodnight 2011. Developmental response to low diets by giant Nephila clavipes females. Journal of Arachnology 39:399-408.
  • Goodnight, C. J. 2011 Evolution in Metacommunities. Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B. 366:1401-1409
  • Wade M. J., D. S. Wilson, C. Goodnight, D. Taylor, Y. Bar-Yam, M.A.M. de Aguiar, B. Stacey, J. Werfel, G. A Hoelzer, E. D. Brodie III, P. Fields, F. Breden, T.A. Linksvayer, J.A. Fletcher, P. J. Richerson, J. Bever, J. D. Van Dyken and P. Zee. 2010. A different perspective on multilevel selection. Nature 463:E8-E9.
  • Higgins, L, C. Goodnight. 2010 Nephila clavipes females have accelerating dietary requirements. The Journal of Arachnology. 38:150-152.
  • Goodnight C. J. 2010.Adaptive landscapes and the concept of optimality. Encyclopedia of Behavior. Pages 24-29.
  • Eppstein, M. J. Payne, C. Goodnight. 2009. Underdominance, Multiscale Interactions, and Self-Organizing Barriers to Gene Flow. Journal of Artificial Evolution and Applications 10.1155/2009/725049.
  • Calsbeek, B, C. Goodnight. 2009. An empirical comparison of G matrix test statistics: finding biologically relevant change. Evolution 63:2627-2635.
  • Goodnight, C., E. Rauch, H. Sayama, M. A. M. De Aguiar, M. Branger, and Y. Bar-Yam. 2008. Evolution in spatial Predator-Prey Models and the “Prudent Predatory”: The inadequacy of steady-state organism fitness and the concept of the individual and group selection. Complexity 13(5): 23-44
  • Payne, J.L., Eppstein, M.J., & Goodnight, C.J. 2007. Sensitivity of Self-Organized Speciation to Long-Distance Dispersal. In Proceedings of the IEEE Symposium on Artificial Life, pp. 1-7, (winner of best student paper award).
  • Eppstein, M. J., J. L. Payne, C. J. Goodnight 2006. Speciation by self-organizing barriers to gene flow in simulated populations with localized mating. Workshop Proceedings for Genetic and Evolutionary Computation Conference (GECCO) 2006.
  • Wade, M. J., and C. J. Goodnight. 2006. Cyto-nuclear epistasis: two-locus random genetic drift in hermaphroditic and dioecious species. Evolution 60:643-659. Goodnight, C. J. 2006. News and Commentary: Peak shifts in large populations. Heredity 96:5-6
  • Goodnight, C. J. 2005. Multilevel Selection: The Evolution of Cooperation in Non Kin Groups. Population Ecology 47:3-12
  • Goodnight, C. J. 2004. Genetics and Evolution in Structured Populations. IN: Evolutionary Genetics: Concepts and Case Studies, C. Fox and J. Wolf Editors. In Press.
  • Goodnight, C. J. 2004. Gene Interaction and Selection. In: K. Lamkey ed., Long Term Selection: A Celebration Of 100 Years Of Selection For Oil And Protein In Maize
  • Goodnight, C. J. 2003. Metapopulation Quantitative Genetics. In: O. Gaggiotti ed.The Biology of Metapopulations.
  • Michael J. Wade, R. G. Winther, A. F. Agrawal, C. J. Goodnight. 2001. Alternative definitions of epistasis: dependence and interaction. Trends in Ecology & Evolution 16: 498-504
  • Goodnight, C. J. 2000, Heritability at the ecosystem level. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, 97: 9365-9366
  • Goodnight, C. J. 2000. Modeling gene interaction in structured populations. Pp. 213-231, in J. B. Wolf, E. D. Brodie, III, M. J. Wade, eds., Epistasis and the Evolutionary Process, Oxford University Press, Oxford.
  • Goodnight, C. J., and M. J. Wade. 2000. The ongoing-synthesis: a reply to Coyne et al. (1999). Evolution 54:317-324.
  • Goodnight, C. J. 2000 Quantitative Trait Loci and Gene Interaction: The Quantitative Genetics of Metapopulations. Heredity 84:587-598.