Welcome! I study metabolic physiology and ecology in two insect groups, wing-dimorphic field crickets and leafcutter ants.
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? Details in my research statement (pdf).
I also develop analytical tools to characterize behavior and nutritional physiology, using R. My Learn R page contains resources for those getting started with R, plus links to workshops I have organized. Contact me if you are interested in having me teach a workshop.
- Current: (1) How flight impacts life-history expression in the wing-dimorphic cricket Gryllus lineaticeps, and (2) How individual variation contributes to the division of labor in desert leafcutter ants
- Previously (January - July 2018): Social selection in small associations of ant foundress queens, with Dr. Jennifer Fewell at Arizona State University.
- November 2015 - December 2017: Postdoctoral research: How nutrition modulates metabolic flux in wing-dimorphic crickets, with Dr. Caroline Williams at the University of California, Berkeley.
- 2011 - 2015: Postdoctoral research on Nutritional regulation and life-history trade-offs in the wing-polymorphic cricket Gryllus firmus, with Dr. Spence Behmer at Texas A&M University and Dr. Tony Zera at the University of Nebraska, Lincoln.
- 2011: Dissertation research: Behavioral and Nutritional Regulation of Growth in the Desert Leafcutter Ant, Acromyrmex versicolor. Supervisor Dr. Jennifer Fewell.
My research is funded by the public, so I try to make methods freely available via Flickr:
- Mueller, U.G., Ishak, H.D., Bruschi, S.M., Smith, C.C., Herman, J.J., Solomon, S.E., Mikheyev, A.S., Rabeling, C., Scott, J.J., Cooper, M., Rodrigues, A., Ortiz, A., Brandão, C.R.F., Lattke, J.E., Pagnocca, F.C., Rehner, S.A., Schultz, T.R., Vasconcelos, H.L., Adams, R.M.M., Bollazzi, M., Clark, R.M., Himler, A.G., LaPolla, J.S., Leal, I.R., Johnson, R.A., Roces, F., Sosa-Calvo, J., Wirth, R., and Bacci, M. (2017) Biogeography of mutualistic fungi cultivated by leafcutter ants. Molecular Ecology, 26(24), 6921-6937.
- Zera, A.J., Clark, R.M., and Behmer, S.T. (2016) Lipogenesis in a wing-polymorphic cricket: Canalization versus morph-specific plasticity as a function of nutritional heterogeneity. Journal of Insect Physiology, 95, 118-132.
- 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.
- My short handouts developed to teach writing and statistics research methods to undergraduates.
- 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.