Scarites, Pardosa, Hogna
Miami University Ecology Research Center
The Rypstra Laboratory

Graduate Students

(Feel free to contact Dr. Rypstra about potential available graduate positions in the lab)


Jason Schmidt

Jason M. Schmidt (PhD candidate, expected May 2011)

One of my interests is the connection between structural complexity and density of generalist predators addressing questions such as: how do levels of habitat structure influence density and foraging patterns, is habitat complexity acting as a spatial resource or a trophic resource or can we truly distinguish the two? My interest is motivated by the fact that cursorial predators, such as wolf spiders, occur at highly variable densities; understanding the impact of various habitat structures on density patterns is important for generating and designing more substainable agricultural programs to promote natural enemies. A second line of research that I am pursuing, in collaboration with Dr. James D. Harwood at the University of Kentucky, is the influence of prey availability on consumption of prey by generalist predators. Using enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA) with a Diptera specific monoclonal antibody, I am currently looking at the changes in the consumption of this alternative prey group as related to the availability of other potential prey, habitat type, and seasonality. My goal is to use this protein assay as an indicator of changes in consumption of target groups such as leafhoppers to better understand how prey switching impacts ecosystem function.




Michael Sitvarin

Michael Sitvarin (PhD student, August 2008 - present)

I’m primarily interested in the behavioral ecology of predator-prey interactions. I like to think about how prey detect and avoid predators that are simultaneously trying to detect and capture prey. Wolf spiders (Araneae: Lycosidae) provide an interesting system with which to pursue my interests because they are frequently intraguild predators of other wolf spiders. This creates a situation in which a predator has to balance the demands of finding prey and avoiding being eaten itself. My current and future work aims to understand how the small wolf spider Pardosa milvina responds to potentially conflicting cues from prey and predators.




Jonathan Edwards

Jonathan Edwards (MS candidate, August 2009 - present)

What are the important factors that go into the decision to disperse away from an area? How does a spider decide to leave an area? Why might an individual disperse to a different location? These are some questions that I would like to address with my research in the spider lab. In the spring of 2010 I plan to carry out laboratory experiments investigating the role pheromones play on the behavior of the cellar spider. Those experiments will keep me busy up until the field season, when I will start experiments focusing on the effect adult sex-ratios have on the dispersal patterns of individuals within the population.

Pholcus phalangioides