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Dr. Ken Cramer

Ken CramerProfessor

Contact Information

Phone: 309-457-2394

Office: Rm. 243, CSB


B.S., University of Missouri, 1979
M.S. University of Oklahoma, 1983
Ph.D. Utah State University, 1988

Courses taught

Intro. to Ecology, Evolution and Diversity; Ecology; Environmental Science; Field Zoology; Animal Behavior; Life on Earth; Introduction to Liberal Arts; Reflections - Beyond Belief (Science, Religion and Meaning); Citizenship - Green Initiatives.

Research Interests

In general, I am broadly interested in animal ecology, diversity, and behavior and students have worked with a wide variety of organisms in my lab, from mice to snakes.  However, students generally focus on some aspect of spider behavior or ecology, often working with the brown recluse spider.  I am interested in the distribution and natural history of this spider in Illinois and Iowa and have set up a web page to collect data from the general public, the Brown Recluse Project.

Students have worked on foraging behavior of recluses including studies on their preference for live or dead prey and the possible use of olfaction in locating dead prey.  Also, we have investigated temperature tolerance in brown recluses.  Many other projects on the behavior and ecology of this species are waiting to be done!  Other students have worked with various orb-weaving spiders to investigate some of their behaviors such as constructing a stabilimentum or web-shaking.  Prey choice and learning in jumping spiders is also a subject for exploration. Studies of spider diversity in different habitats such as restored and virgin prairies also hold great potential for research.

Field Research and Teaching Experience

Recluse spider behavior and distribution
Spider communities in remnant and restored prairies, Illinois
Leaf litter spider communities in temperate forests, Tennessee
Twig-girdling beetle oviposition site selection, Missouri
Effects of predation on rodent community structure, Chile
Deer mouse life history strategies, Utah
Tiger beetle mating preferences, Oklahoma
Gull-pelican interactions, Colima, Mexico

Insect Ecology, Institute for Tropical Ecology and Conservation, Panama
Mammalogy, Organization for Tropical Studies summer course, Costa Rica
Conservation biology, ACM Wilderness Field Station, Minnesota
Conservation biology, Blakely Island Field Station, Washington
Birds of the Pacific Northwest, Blakely Island Field Station, Washington

Recent Publications  

Cramer, K. L. 2008. Are brown recluse spiders (Loxosceles reclusa) scavengers? The influence of predator satiation, prey size and prey quality.  J. Arachnology 36:140-144.

Cramer, K. L. and A. V. Maywright. 2008. Cold temperature tolerance and the distribution of the brown recluse spider, Loxosceles reclusa (Araneae, Sicariidae) in Illinois. J. Arachnology 36:136-139.

Cramer, K. L. 2003.  The influence of precipitation change on spiders as top predators in the detrital community.  Chapter 20 in North American Temperate Deciduous Forest Responses to Changing Precipitation Regimes.  Ecological Studies vol. 166, ed. P. J. Hanson and S. D. Wullschleger. Springer, New York, NY, 472 pp.

Cramer, K. L.  1998.  Effects of twig morphology on oviposition and hatching success of the twig-girdling beetle Oncideres cingulata (Coleoptera:Cerambycidae).  Coleopterist's Bulletin 52:186-193.



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