I study nutritional physiology and ecology in two insect species, the field cricket Gryllus firmus and the desert leafcutter ant Acromyrmex versicolor.
I ask (1) how nutrients affect growth and physiological allocation (i.e. how do different nutrients get to different parts of the body or organism?); and (2) how nutrition and behavior interact to drive function and growth of complex social groups. For example, how do ant queens balance between foraging vs. tending their young, to grow a new leafcutter colony? For details, see my research statement (pdf).
I also develop analytical tools to characterize behavior and nutritional physiology, using R. My Learn R page contains curated resources for those just getting started with R. I also organize and lead workshops.
My research is funded by the public, so I try to make my methods freely available via Flickr:
- Zera, A.J., Clark, R.M., and Behmer, S.T. (In press) Lipogenesis in a wing-polymorphic cricket: Canalization versus morph-specific plasticity as a function of nutritional heterogeneity. Journal of Insect Physiology
- Clark, R.M., Zera, A.J., and Behmer, S.T. (2016) Metabolic rate is canalized in the face of variable life history and nutritional environment. Functional Ecology, 30, 922-931.
- Clark, R.M., Zera, A.J., and Behmer, S.T. (2015) Nutritional physiology of life history trade-offs: how food protein-carbohydrate content influences life-history traits in the wing-polymorphic cricket Gryllus firmus. Journal of Experimental Biology, 218, 298-308.
- Clark, R.M., and Fewell, J.H. (2014) Transitioning from unstable to stable growth dynamics during early colony ontogeny in the desert leafcutter ant Acromyrmex versicolor. Behavioral Ecology and Sociobiology, 68, 163-171.
- Clark, R.M., and Fewell, J.H. (2014) Social dynamics drive selection in cooperative associations of ant queens. Behavioral Ecology 25, 117-123.
- Overson, R., Gadau, J., Clark, R.M., Pratt, S.C., and Fewell, J.H. (2014) Behavioral transitions with the evolution of cooperative nest founding by harvester ant queens. Behavioral Ecology and Sociobiology 68, 21-30.
- Clark, R.M., McConnell*, A., Zera, A.J., and Behmer, S.T. (2013) Nutrient regulation strategies differ between cricket morphs that trade-off dispersal and reproduction. Functional Ecology 27, 1126-1133
- Kang, Y., Clark, R., Makiyama, M., and Fewell, J.H. (2011) Mathematical modeling on obligate mutualism: Interactions between leaf-cutter ants and their garden fungus. Journal of Theoretical Biology 289, 116-127.
- Holbrook, C.T., Clark, R.M., Moore, D., Overson, R.P., Penick, C.A., and A.A. Smith. (2010) Social insects inspire human design. Biology Letters 6, 431-433.
- Holbrook, C.T., Clark, R., Jeanson, R., Bertram, S., Kukuk, P., and Fewell, J.H. (2009) Emergence and consequences of division of labor in forced associations of the normally solitary halictine bee Lasioglossum (Ctenonomia) NDA-1. Ethology 115, 301-310.
- Jeanson, R., Clark, R., Holbrook, C.T., Bertram, S., Fewell, J.H., and Kukuk, P. (2008) Division of labour and socially-induced changes in response thresholds in associations of solitary Halictine bees. Animal Behavior 76, 593-602.
- Clark, R., Anderson, K.E., Gadau, J., Fewell, J.H. (2006) Behavioral regulation of genetic caste determination in a Pogonomyrmex population with dependent lineages. Ecology 8, 2201-2206.
- Clark, R., and Fewell, J.H. (2004) Eusociality. In: The Encyclopedia of Animal Behavior (Ed. M. Beckoff), pp. 992-993. Greenwood Press: Connecticut.
- Excellent teaching is an active and reflective exercise to change students' understanding about the world and exert a positive influence on how students think, act, and feel. My objectives are: (1) provide students with perspective about the living world and how it works, (2) encourage critical thinking skill development, (3) help students understand how fundamental scientific knowledge and insights arise and are communicated, and (4) empower students to contribute to scientific understanding. I use evidence-based teaching methods to teach concept-focused courses with an emphasis on the development of communication and critical-thinking skills. Read further... (pdf).