Margot Schwalbe

Margot Schwalbe

Assistant Professor of Biology



Animal Physiology
Animal Behavior
Sensory Biology

Research Interests

My research focuses on how animals sense and move in their environment. Animals live in a variety of habitats and rely on a suite of sensory systems to find food, avoid predators, navigate, and communicate. Further, sensory systems can provide important feedback in certain maneuvers. My work connects the structure and function of a sensory system to the behavior and movement of an animal.

I study sensory systems and biomechanics in fish. As an animal group, fish demonstrate an amazing array of sensory and locomotive adaptations. Part of my research focuses on the lateral line system, a unique sensory system found only in fish (and some aquatic amphibians) that detects water flow immediately around the body. All fish have a lateral line system and use it in a variety of behaviors, including swimming, detecting prey, and schooling. Multiple patterns of this system are found among the 34,000+ fish species and the size, shape, and distribution of this system greatly influence its function. Another part of my research investigates the role of sensory systems to fish locomotion, especially while a fish is swimming in turbulence.

For details, please visit my website: The Schwalbe Lab.


Postdoctoral Fellow, Tufts University
PhD, Biological Sciences, University of Rhode Island, 2013
MS, Biology, University of Minnesota Duluth, 2008
BS, Biology, University of Minnesota Duluth, 2004

Courses Taught

Biol 120 – Organismal Biology

Biol 340 – Animal Physiology

Biol 346 / Neur 301 – Neuroscience: Neuron to Brain

Biol 478 – Animal Survival in Extreme Habitats


Mekdara, P. J., Nasimi, F., Schwalbe, M. A., & Tytell, E. D. (2021). Tail beat synchronization during schooling requires a functional posterior lateral line system in giant danios,  Devario aequipinnatus Integrative and Comparative Biology.

Webb, JF, Maruska, K, Butler, J & Schwalbe MAB. (2021). The lateral line system of cichlid fishes: Anatomy to behavior. In: Abate ME & Noakes DLG (Eds.). The Behavior, Ecology and Evolution of Cichlid Fishes: A Contemporary Modern Synthesis. Springer Academic.

Schwalbe, MAB, Boden, AL, Wise, TN, & Tytell, ED. (2019). Red muscle activity in bluegill sunfish  Lepomis macrochirus during forward accelerations.  Scientific Reports, 9(1): 8088.

Wise, T N, Schwalbe, MAB, & Tytell, ED. (2018). Hydrodynamics of linear acceleration in bluegill sunfish,  Lepomis macrochirusJournal of Experimental Biology. doi: 10.1242/jeb190892.

Mekdara, PJ, Schwalbe, MAB, Coughlin, LL & Tytell, ED. (2018). The effects of lateral line ablation and regeneration in schooling giant danios.  Journal of Experimental Biology, doi: 10.1242/jeb.175166.

Schwalbe, MAB, Sevey, BJ & Webb, JF. (2016). Detection of artificial water flows by the lateral line system of a benthic feeding cichlid fish.  Journal of Experimental Biology. 219: 1050-1059.

Schwalbe, MAB & Webb, JF. (2015). The effect of light intensity on prey detection behavior in two Lake Malawi cichlids,  Aulonocara stuartgranti and  Tramitichromis sp.   Journal of Comparative Physiology A. 201: 341–356.

Schwalbe, MAB & Webb, JF. (2014) . Sensory basis for detection of benthic prey in two Lake Malawi cichlids.  Zoology. 117: 112-121.

Schwalbe, MAB, Bassett, DK & Webb, JF. (2012). Feeding in the dark: lateral-line-mediated prey detection in the peacock cichlid  Aulonocara  stuartgrantiJournal of Experimental Biology. 215: 2060-2071.

Bergstrom, MA & Mensinger, AF. (2009). Interspecific resource competition between the invasive round goby and three native species: logperch, slimy sculpin and spoonhead sculpin.  Transactions of the American Fisheries Society. 138: 1009-1017.

Bergstrom, MA, Evrard, LM & Mensinger, AF. (2008). Distribution, abundance, and range of the round goby,  Apollina melanostoma, in the Duluth-Superior Harbor and St. Louis River Estuary, 1998-2004.  Journal of Great Lakes Research. 34: 535-543.