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Department of Zoology
University of Oklahoma
Norman, Oklahoma, 73019-0235

Office: (405) 325-3371

Born 5 August 1961, Lincoln Nebraska, I'm married to the artist Deborah Kaspari ( My research centers on the behavioral, community, and macroecology of soil arthropods and their function in ecosystems.


  • 1983--B.S. (with distinction) Univ. of Nebraska. (Biological Sciences)
    "A selective test of foraging theory using an assemblage of grassland birds."
  • 1985--M.S. Univ. of Nebraska. (Ecology and Systematics)
    "The ecology and evolution of prey preparation."
    Advisor: A. Joern.
  • 1992--Ph.D. Univ. of Arizona. (Ecology and Evolutionary Biology)
    "Niche relationships in an assemblage of Neotropical granivorous ants."
    Advisor: M. Rosenzweig

Post-Doctoral Research Biologist
NATO Post-doctoral Fellow
DOE Global Change Fellow
Assistant Professor of Zoology
Associate Professor of Zoology
Research Associate
Bullard Fellow
University of Texas
University of Guelph
Lawrence Livermore Labs
University of Oklahoma
University of Oklahoma
Smithsonian Institution
Harvard University
(not counting ca. $60K of in-house support)

  • Pending:
    • NSF: (Co-PI) IGERT "Biotic and human dimensions of land use and climate change ."
    • NSF: (Co-PI) Collaborative Research (RUI): "Toward a stoichiometric theory of ant ecology--integrating from colony performance through community composition."
  • Current:
    • Center for Tropical Forest Science (PI) "Towards a spatial ecology of brown food webs: soil nutrients and trees as templates." (6K)
    • Harvard University: Bullard Fellow-"Towards a biogeography of brown food webs" (30K)
  • Past:
    • NSF Ecology (PI) "Does ecological stoichiometry and defense theory predict patterns of resource and predator limitation in a tropical litter food web?" (300K) + 26K REU
    • National Geographic Society (Steve Yanoviak PI, with Robert Dudley) "Gliding flight in tropical canopy ants" (20K)
    • National Geographic Society (PI, with John Lattke and Sean O'Donnell) "Army ant biodiversity, behavior, and impact in 4 Neotropical forests." (24K)
    • Mellon Exploratory Research Award (PI) "On the dynamics and regulation of brown food webs-- a pilot study" (6K)
    • NASA (co-PI with Yiqi Luo) "Human Impacts on Ecosystem Biodiversity and Functions: Development of Partnerships with NASA Goddard Space Flight Center" (18K)
    • The Nature Conservancy (PI with Leeanne Alonso) "A Plan to Inventory and Monitor the Spread of Solenopsis invicta, the Imported Fire Ant, in Oklahoma" (7K)
    • Mellon Exploratory Research Award (PI) "Causes of Litter Ant Patchiness at the m2 scale: studying the effects of rainfall and plant diversity" (4K)
    • NSF Interagency Terrestrial Ecology and Global Change Initiative (PI) "Climatic Regulation of Ant Assemblages in North and Central America" (349K) + 20K REU supplement
    • National Geographic Society (PI) "Climate, Body Size and the Diversity of Ant Assemblages" (8K)
    • NSF International Programs (PI with Larry Gilbert) "On the regulation of Solenopsis invicta in native Brazilian populations". (10K)
    • NSF NATO (PI with Peter Yodzis) "Using cellular automata toward understanding spatial interactions in ant communities"


  • 2005: Smithsonian Institution Biodiversity science and education initiative Working group Universita' degli Studi di Firenze: Distinguished lectures on conservation and biodiversity. Multiple titles.
  • 2004: Gordon Conference on Metabolic Approaches to Ecology: "Beyond Bergmann's Rule"
  • 2002: Assoc. for Tropical Biology on Food Webs in Tropical Research: "The Brown Food Web"
  • 2000: NCEAS Productivity and Diversity: "Body size, species diversity and abundance in ant communities"
  • 1997: Santa Fe Institute Thermodynamics in Ecology: "Energetic approaches to ant communities"
  • 1996: 20th Intl. Congress of Entomology Life Histories of Social Insects: "Size in ants"
  • 1995: Dept. of Energy on New Research in Global Change: "Energetic approaches to diversity and abundance"

Harvard University, Stanford University, UC-Berkeley, UC-Davis, Louisiana State University, Mount Holyoke College, Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute, St. Louis University, University of Arizona, University of Missouri, University of Georgia, University of Kansas, University of New Orleans, University of Tennessee, University of Vermont, University of Utah


  • In prep:
    • Kaspari M, J Wright, J Yavitt & K Harms. Ecological stoichiometry and the regulation of a Neotropical litter community: evidence from a fertilization experiment.
    • Kaspari M. Per-capita energy availability and the regulation of abundance
    • Kaspari M, S O'Donnell J Lattke S Powell. Do swarm raiding army ants skim the cream or empty the bottle? a study of impacts on the litter fauna.
  • In review:
    • Kaspari M and S Yanoviak. Toward a biogeography of brown food webs: trophic ecology tracks environmental stoichiometry in review by colleagues
    • Kaspari M, J Wright, J Yavitt, K Harms, M Santana. Macronutrients, micronutrients, and the regulation of decomposition in a tropical forest Ecology Letters
  • Peer-reviewed journals:
    • O'Donnell S, Lattke, J, Powell S, Kaspari, M. (2007) Army ants in four forests: Geographical variation in raid rates and species abundance. Journal of Animal Ecology 76: 580-589
    • Milton, Y and M. Kaspari. accepted Bottom-up and top-down regulation of decomposition in a tropical forest. Oecologia
    • Kaspari M. and M Weiser. (2007) The size-grain hypothesis: do macroarthropods see a fractal world? Ecological Entomology 32: 279-282.
    • Weiser, M & M Kaspari. 2006 Ecological morphospace of New World ants. Ecological Entomology 31: 131-142.
    • O'Donnell, S, M Kaspari & John Lattke (2005) Extraordinary predation by the Neotropical army ant Cheliomyrmex andicola: implications for the evolution of the army ant syndrome. Biotropica 38:706-709.
    • Kaspari M. (2005) Global energy gradients and the regulation of body size: worker mass and worker number in ant colonies Proceedings of the National Academy of Science USA 102:5079-5083.
    • Yanoviak, S, R Dudley, M Kaspari. (2005) Directed aerial descent in canopy ants. Nature 433: 624-626.
    • Valone, TJ & M Kaspari. (2005) The response of a desert grassland ant community to the reduction of common granivores. Ecological Entomology 30: 116-121.
    • Kaspari M, P Ward & M Yuan (2004). Energy gradients and the geographic distribution of local ant diversity. Oecologia 140: 407-414.
    • Kaspari M. (2004) Using the Metabolic Theory of Ecology to predict global patterns of abundance. Ecology 85: 1800-1802.
    • Kaspari M & S. O'Donnell. (2003) High rates of army ant raids in the Neotropics and implications for ant colony and community structure. Evolutionary Ecology Research 5:933-939.
    • Kaspari M, M Yuan, & L Alonso. (2003) Spatial grain and gradients of ant species richness. American Naturalist 161: 459-477.
    • Kaspari M &T Valone. (2002) Seasonal resource availability and the abundance of ectotherms. Ecology 83: 2991-2996.
    • Kaspari M, J Longino, J Pickering & D Windsor. (2001) The phenology of a Neotropical ant assemblage--evidence for continuous and overlapping reproduction. Behavioral Ecology and Sociobiology 50: 382-390.
    • Kaspari M & S Yanoviak. (2001) Bait use in tropical litter and canopy ants--evidence for differences in nutrient limitation. Biotropica 33: 207-211.
    • Kaspari M. (2001) Taxonomic level, trophic biology, and the regulation of local abundance. Global Ecology and Biogeography 10:229-244.
    • Kaspari M, J Pickering & D Windsor (2001) The reproductive flight phenology of a neotropical ant assemblage. Ecological Entomology 26: 245-257.
    • Kaspari, M & M Weiser. (2000) Ant activity along moisture gradients in a tropical forest. Biotropica 32:703-711.
    • Scheiner SM, SB Cox, M Willig, G Mittlebach, C Osenberg, & M Kaspari (2000) Species richness, species area curves, and Simpson's paradox. Evolutionary Ecology Research 2: 791-802.
    • Kaspari M (2000) Do imported fires ants impact canopy arthropods? Evidence from simple arboreal pitfall traps. Southwestern Naturalist 45:118-122.
    • Yanoviak, S & M Kaspari (2000) Community structure and the habitat templet: ants in the tropical forest canopy and litter. Oikos 89:259-266.
    • Kaspari M, S O'Donnell & JR Kercher (2000) Energy, density, and constraints to species richness: studies of ant assemblages along a productivity gradient. American Naturalist 155:280-293.
    • Kaspari M, S. O'Donnell, & L Alonso (2000) Three energy variables predict ant abundance at a geographic scale. Proceedings of the Royal Society B 267:485-490.
    • Kaspari M & M Weiser (1999) Interspecific scaling in ants: the Size-Grain hypothesis. Functional Ecology 13:530-538.
    • Kaspari M (1996) Testing resource-based models of patchiness in 4 Neotropical litter ant assemblages. Oikos 76:443-454.
    • Kaspari M (1996) Litter Ant Patchiness at the m2 scale: disturbance dynamics in three Neotropical forests. Oecologia 107:265-273.
    • Kaspari M (1996) Worker size and seed size selection by harvester ants in a Neotropical forest. Oecologia 105:397-404.
    • Kaspari M & M Byrne (1995) Caste allocation in litter Pheidole: lessons from plant defense theory. Behavioral Ecology and Sociobiology 37:255-263.
    • Kaspari M & E Vargo (1995) Does colony size buffer environmental variation? Bergmann's rule and social insects. American Naturalist 145:610-63.
    • Kaspari M & E Vargo (1994) Nest site selection by fire ant queens. Insectes Sociaux 41:331-333.
    • Kaspari M (1993) Body size and microclimate use in neotropical granivorous ants. Oecologia 96:500-507.
    • Kaspari M and A Joern (1993) Prey choice in three grassland birds: reevaluating opportunism. Oikos 68:414-430.
    • Kaspari M (1993) Removal of seeds from Neotropical frugivore droppings: ant responses to seed number. Oecologia 95:81-88.
    • Kaspari M (1991) Preparation as a strategy to maximize nutrient concentration in prey. Behav. Ecology 2:234-241.
    • Kaspari M (1991) Central place foraging in the grasshopper sparrow: opportunism or optimal foraging in a variable environment? Oikos 60:307-312.
    • Kaspari M (1990) Prey preparation and the determinants of handling time. Animal Behaviour 40:118-126.
    • Young BE, M Kaspari & TE Martin (1990) Species-specific nest site selection by birds in Ant-Acacia Trees. Biotropica 22:310-315.
    • Kaspari M & H O'Leary (1988) Non-parental attendants in a north-temperate migrant. Auk 105: 792-793.
  • Books:
    • Kaspari M & D Vleck (1991) Introductory Biology: a laboratory manual. Bellweather Press, Minnesota.
  • Chapters:
    • Kaspari, M (2003) Introducción a la ecología de las hormigas, Pp 97-112, in: Fernández, F., Introducción a las hormigas de la region Neotropical. Smithsonian Institution Press. Washington DC.
    • Kaspari, M & JD. Majer. (2000) Using Ants to Monitor Environmental Change. Pp. 89-98, in: Agosti, D., Majer, J., Alonso, E. and Schultz, T., (eds.). Ants: Standard Methods for Measuring and Monitoring Biodiversity. Biological Diversity Handbook Series. Smithsonian Institution Press. Washington D.C., 20+280pp.
    • Kaspari, M (2000) A Primer in Ant Ecology. Pp. 9-24, in: Agosti, D., Majer, J., Alonso, E. and Schultz, T., (eds.). Ants: Standard Methods for Measuring and Monitoring Biodiversity. Biological Diversity Handbook Series. Smithsonian Institution Press. Washington D.C., 20+280pp.
  • Reviews:
    • Kaspari M (1997) Review of "Forest Litter Insect Communities: biology and chemical ecology" by T. N. Ananthakrishnan. Quarterly Review of Biology 72: 104.


American Society of Naturalists, Association of Tropical Biologists, Ecological Society of America, Soil Scientists of America


Introduction to Zoology, Principles of Ecology, Community Ecology, The Art and Science of Biodiversity (Senior Capstone), Advanced Ecology and Evolutionary Biology


  • Co-Chair, Gordon Research Conference on Metabolic Ecology, 2008
  • "Most Inspiring Faculty 1999-2000", as awarded by student athletes of the University of Oklahoma.
  • "Featured Scientist" JASON XV: Panama Forests at the Crossroads. JASON is a nonprofit organization that develops yearly curricula for 1.7 million students in 4-9th grade science classrooms. It culminates in a live broadcast "expedition" (two weeks and 55 1-hour broadcasts). It allowed me to teach the ecology and evolutionary biology of the tropical forest from the litter of Barro Colorado Island in Panama.


  • OU Spotlight on Teaching
    Spring 1999--Teaching science's relevance and beauty
  • NPR 16 May 2002-- Calling Evolution Evolution.
    Ants skydive to escape predators.
  • Science News Week of Feb 12 (2005) Life on the scales.
  • New Scientist Week of March 19 (2005) Global warming and ant invasions
  • The Oklahoman (2007)
    Ant-astic World. Fascination draws biologist to track trail of worker ants.
  • Referee:
    American Naturalist, American Zoologist, Annual Review of Ecology and Systematics, Behavioral Ecology, Biological Journal of the Linnaean Society, Biotropica, Condor, Conservation Biology, Diversity and Distributions, Ecology Letters, Ecoscience, Ecography, Ecological Entomology, Ecology, Evolution, Global Ecology and Biogeography, Journal of Animal Ecology, Journal of Biogeography, Journal of Hymenopteran Research, Nature, National Geographic, Northeastern Naturalist, Naturwissenschaften, Oecologia,Ohio Journal of Science, Oikos, Proceedings of the Royal Society B, Proceedings of the National Academy of Science, Science, Southwestern Naturalist

    U.S.: DOE, NSF, USDA, NASA, and EPSCoR NSF Panel Spring 2005 Louisiana; UK: NERC

  • Selected committee work:
    • Director and co-founder: Ecology and Evolutionary Biology Graduate Program at OU
    • Executive Committee--Biodiversity Science and Education Initiative
    • Lead OU representative to "Central Grasslands NEON" for NEON proposal 2001
    • Lead EEB representative for Undergraduate Curriculum Revision at OU--1997-2000

Updated: 24 July, 2007

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