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Dr. Mike Kaspari
Presidential Professor
Director EEB
grad program
Department of Zoology
University of Oklahoma
Norman OK, 73019-0235
405-325-4821
mkaspari at ou dot edu

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2013
--Mike co-authors a study with Jenifer Kerekes on the fungal responses to the Gigante Fertilization Experiment in Molecular Biology
--Kristina Teixiera visits the AntLab and discusses succession in tropical forests
--After 17 years or so, it was time to update the AntLab manifesto.
--Jon Shik visits the lab, teaches about the glories of respirometry, and gives an Ecomunch on the sugar, protein, cockroaches, and argentine ants.
--Jackson is off to Madegascar with Christian Peters and Brian Fisher to add to his alate studies and hang out with two of the world's premier myrmecologists.
--Jelena spends two weeks in Panama hanging out with the world's premier canopy entomologist, and AntLab alum, Steve Yanoviak, to advance her thesis work on canopy-litter ecology.
--David Donoso is a lead author, along with MikeK, Natalie, and Antlab alum Mary Johnston, on a paper exploring the role of tropical trees on the structure of Brown Food Webs, in Soil Biology and Biogeochemistry.
--Christian Mulder, in a wide ranging collaboration including MikeK, explores the relationship between diversity and ecosystem function, in Advances in Ecological Research.

2012
--Protein, carbs, or both? Mike reports on an using nutritional ecology to explore ant community ecology in Ecosphere.
--Jon Shik earns a prestigious Mme Curie Fellowship to work in Copenhagen and Panama
--Mike is a co-PI on a DOE GANN grant to support promising graduate students in EEB--and Natalie Clay is one of the first!
--Jon Shik is lead author
on the scaling of ant life history in Biology Letters
--Fall Semester begins and Dr. Michael Weiser joins the Antlab as the MacroEcology postdoc
--Congrats to Dr. David Donoso!
--Congrats to Jackson Helms on his NSF GRFP!
--Congrats to Natalie Clay on her NSF DIGG!
- -Ray Huey and Steve Yanoviak visit the AntLab and much discussion of thermal ecology transpires
-- Natalie Clay wins the best paper at the OU Grad Student Research day
--Natalie Clay earns an NSF DIGG for her proposal "Sodium availability and the structure of brown food webs"
-- Jon Shik continues the lab's work on alate biology with a nice paper in Naturwissenschaften: "A life history continuum in the males of a Neotropical ant assemblage: refuting the sperm vessel hypothesis".
-- Robert Dudley is the lead author on an Insights essay in Biotropica entitled "Lust for salt in the western Amazon. Not for the faint of heart.

 

 

AntLab Archives

Writing:
Ants in the boundary layer: thermal ecology of tiny organisms
Litter Tales: life in the brown food web
Teaching:
Ecomunch
Best time for a meeting:
T/Th afternoons
Traveling:
NSF for the DEB Pop-Community Panel in early April
Reading:
Thomas Jefferson, Thomas Meacham
Moral Grandeur and Spiritual Audacity, Abraham Joshua Herschel

Atlantic and The New Yorker
Watching:
The Daily Show
Listening:
The Beatles, The Decembrists, John Prine
Boot Liquor Radio, Radio Paradise

MacArthur's Warblers
In honor of the 50th anniversary of Robert MacArthur's "warbler paper", download an original, high-resolution artwork, by Deborah Kaspari.

Opportunities
Post-Docs: Join a vibrant lab in a growing program in Geographical Ecology.
Graduate students:
We welcome folks who want to ask big questions by studying small critters. We currently have NSF and DOE funding to support exceptional graduate students.
Undergraduates: The AntLab has a long history of recruiting promising undergrads who work with us at international field sites and go on to earn Ph. D.s and Medical degrees.
Contact Mike at mkaspari dot ou dot edu

Folks in my lab generally have has two research foci: the biogeogeography of brown food webs, and using ants as model organisms.

Biogoegraphy of Brown Food Web (BFWs)
Most of the plant production in the world's forests falls uneaten to the forest floor, where it feeds the microbes and invertebrates of the brown food web.The BFW is home to 60% of terrestrial biodiversity, and along with plant production, regulates the carbon cycle and hence the world's climate. But unlike photosynthesis, which is reasonably well understood, the decomposition side of things better resembles a "rugby scrum", with millions of individuals and thousands of species in a m square all competing, eating, cooperating, and cheating each other. Every part and process of the BFW—decomposition rates, nutrient availability, biomass and abundance--varies 10 to 100-fold at grains of 1 square meter, so there is a lot to explain. We use a variety of theory--metabolic, trophic, stoichiometric, and aggregative--to search for general mechanisms underlying global ecological patterns. Our goal is to generate better tools for conservation of brown food webs, and prediction of future climate.

Ants as Model Organisms.
We focus on the behavior, function, diversity, and biogeography of soil arthropods with a particular fondness for ants. Ants have all the features an ecologist would wish in a model taxon: they are common and important, they are taxonomically and ecologically diverse, and nests generally stay put so we can watch them. Recent work has focused on the evolution of functional traits, their role in organizing communities, and the importance of alates to the life history of an ant colony.

See our Research Pages for more details.

Mike in his favorite habitat:
the litter of Barro Colorado Island, Panama.
Mike in the litter
Photo by Christien Ziegler

antlab motmot virtual refrigerator