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Becky Williams
Caldwell Lab

Becky Williams


Phone: (510) 643-5448

Web page:

Her research: "I am interested in predator-prey interactions and chemical ecology. Natural selection can be particularly powerful in these life-or-death struggles, and I am fascinated by the variety of venoms and poisons that have evolved, as well as by the corresponding physiological and behavioral counter-adaptations to this wicked weaponry."

Her study organisms: "I study the blue-ring octopus and its mantis shrimp predators and prey, as well as a poisonous salamander common on the California coast and its toxin-resistant garter snake predator. Both the salamander and the octopus have the deadly neurotoxin tetrodotoxin (TTX)."

On working at Berkeley: The TTX connection brought Becky "from terrestrial work with the snakes and salamanders to the big leap into marine biology with the Caldwell lab at Berkeley — a colossal change, but one which I am thoroughly enjoying!"


Williams B.L., and R.L. Caldwell. 2009. Intra-organismal distribution of tetrodotoxin in two species of blue-ringed octopuses (Hapalochlaena fasciata and H. lunulata). Toxicon 54:345-353.  Read it

Brodie, E. D., III, Feldman, C. R., Hanifin, C. T., Motychak, J. E., Mulcahy, D. G., Williams, B. L., and E. D. Brodie, Jr. 2005. Evolutionary response of predators to dangerous prey: parallel arms races between garter snakes and newts involving tetrodotoxin as the phenotypic interface of coevolution. Journal of Chemical Ecology 31(2):343-355.

Mendelson III, J. R., Williams, B. L., Sheil, C. A. and D. G. Mulcahy. 2005. Systematics of the Bufo coccifer complex (Anura: Bufonidae) of Mesoamerica. Scientific Papers of the Natural History Museum of the University of Kansas 38:1-27.

Williams, B. L., Brodie, E. D., Jr., and E. D. Brodie, III. 2004. A resistant predator and its toxic prey: persistence of newt toxin leads to poisonous (not venomous) snakes. Journal of Chemical Ecology 30(10):1901-1919.

Setser, K., Mulcahy, D. G., and B.L. Williams. 2003. Lampropeltis triangulum (Milk Snake) Habitat. Herpetological Review 34(2):150.

Williams, B. L., Brodie, E. D., Jr., and E. D. Brodie, III. 2003. Coevolution of deadly toxins and predator resistance: Self-assessment of resistance by garter snakes leads to behavioral rejection of toxic newt prey. Herpetologica 59(2):155-163.