Department of Zoology

Ann L. Rypstra
Distinguished Professor; Director, Ecology Research Center
Ph.D. Pennsylvania State University, 1982
evolutionary ecology

538 MOS
148 PSN

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Office Hours:
  Monday . . . . HAM
  Tuesday . . . . OXF
  Wednesday . . HAM
  Thursday. . . . OXF
  Friday. . . . . . HAM

Biographical Information:

Ann Rypstra is interested in the behavior, ecology and diversity of arthropod predators. Her research group employs a broad array of approaches aimed to understand how the ecology and behavior of organisms affect species coexistence patterns. Spiders are the focus of most of Rypstra’s studies because they are a common, but very diverse, group of generalist predators and are relatively easy to manipulate both in the laboratory and the field.

Most of the research conducted by Rypstra’s team falls into one of three general categories, however, creativity is encouraged and some students have initiated their own independent investigations. One current research area is an attempt to quantify all aspects of the behavior and ecology of several species of wolf spider that overlap in habitat use. A specific focus of this endeavor is an investigation of how the interactions between different species influence reproductive behaviors such as courtship and sexual selection. A second research area delves into the role of spiders and other arthropod predators in the food web. Early work revealed that generalist predators, such as spiders, cause higher plant productivity without influencing herbivore populations. Rypstra and her students are interested in the specific mechanisms by which the predators exert their influence in the food web. The third area involves an exploration of the biodiversity of spiders across the region with a focus on species coexistence patterns. Ultimately Rypstra and her students would like to understand the manner in which such factors as productivity, disturbance, heterogeneity and habitat fragmentation influence local diversity.

Courses Taught:

  1. Animal Diversity (ZOO 113)
  2. Principles of Biology (ZOO 114)
  3. Environmental Biology (ZOO 121)
  4. Evolutionary Biology (ZOO 206)
  5. Human Heredity (ZOO 232)
  6. Genetics (ZOO 342)
  7. Genetics for Teachers (ZOO 630.F)
  8. Graduate Seminar (ZOO 710)
  9. Principles and Applications of Environmental Science (IES 431/531)

Recent Publications:

  1. Wilder**, S.M., A.L. Rypstra & M.A. Elgar (2009) The importance of ecological and phylogenetic conditions for the occurrence and frequency of sexual cannibalism. Invited to submit this review to Annual Review of Ecology, Evolution and Systematics 40:21-39

  2. Rypstra, A.L., A.M. Schlosser,** P.L. Sutton*, & M.H. Persons (2009) Multimodal signaling: the importance of chemical and visual cues from females to the behaviour of male wolf spiders. Animal Behaviour 77:937-947

  3. Hoefler, C.D., Persons, M.H., & A.L. Rypstra. (2008) Evolutionarily costly courtship displays in a wolf spider: a test of viability indicator theory. Behavioral Ecology 19:974-979.

  4. Wilder**, S.M., & A.L. Rypstra (2008) Sexual size dimorphism predicts the frequency of sexual cannibalism within and among species of spiders. American Naturalist 172:431-440

  5. Rypstra, A.L., J.M. Schmidt**, B.D. Reif*, J. DeVito & M.H. Persons (2007) Trade-offs involved in site selection and foraging in a wolf spider: effects of substrate structure and predation risk. Oikos 116:853-863