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Spencer T. Behmer

Professor, Department of Entomology
Chair, TAMU Ecology & Evolutionary Biology Program

Member, TAMU Institute of Neuroscience

     Minnie Belle Heep Building, Rm 509
     Texas A&M University
     College Station, TX 77843-2475


     Phone: (979) 845-7304
     Fax: (979) 845-6305

My interests in insect physiology and behavior began to develop as an undergraduate working on grasshoppers in the sandhills of western Nebraska. Initially I focused on questions grounded in ecology, but as I spent time doing fieldwork I began to wonder why particular species were associated with particular plants and habitats, and which factors were responsible for determining species abundance, coexistence and distribution. I also became curious about what insects were capable of learning as they moved through and experienced their surroundings. I felt some these questions might best be addressed by exploring physiology, and since then my research has tended in this direction, with an emphasis on nutritional physiology and mechanisms associated with resource use. I am a keen observer of insect natural history, and where possible I use a comparative approach to gain insights into the evolution of physiological processes and mechanisms. I also believe that a broader understanding of insect physiology can provide novel insights into conditions affecting humans (e.g. obesity, diabetes) and, in the case of plant-feeding insect pests, lead to the development of novel control approaches that are both target specific and environmental friendly.

Professor (Department of Entomology, Texas A&M University, 2014-present)

Associate Professor (Department of Entomology, Texas A&M University, 2011-2014)

Assistant Professor (Department of Entomology, Texas A&M University, 2005-2011)

Research Associate (Department of Zoology, University of Oxford, 1998-2005)
College Lecturer (Hertford College, University of Oxford, 2001-2005)
Ph.D. in Entomology (The University of Arizona, 1998)
M.S. in Ecology/Biology (University of Nebraska-Lincoln, 1993)
B.S. in Biology (University of Nebraska-Lincoln, 1989)

Co-Editor, Journal of Insect Physiology (2013 - present)
Associate Editor, Journal of Animal Ecology (2012 - present)
Associate Editor, BMC Physiology (2010 - present)


Editorial Board, Current Opinions in Insect Science (2013 - present)

Editorial Board, Insect Science (2013 - present)

Editorial Board, Insects (2014 - present)


Vice Chair, Gordon Research Conference on Plant-Herbivore Interactions (2017)
Chair, Gordon Research Conference on Plant-Herbivore Interactions (2019)

Deans, C.A., Behmer, S.T., Tessnow, A.E., Tamez-Guerra, P., Pusztai-Carey, M. and Sword, G.A.
     (2017) Nutrition affects insect susceptibility to Bt toxins. Scientific Reports 7, 39705. [pdf]


Clark, R.M., Zera, A.J. and Behmer, S.T. (2016) Metabolic rate is canalized in the face of variable
     life history and nutritional environment. Functional Ecology 30, 922-931. [pdf]


Deans, C.A., Behmer, S.T., Fiene, J. and Sword, G.A. (2016) Spatio-temporal, genotypic, and

     environmental effects on plant soluble protein and digestible carbohydrate content:
     implications for insect herbivores with cotton as an exemplar. Journal of Chemical
, 42, 1151-1163. [pdf]


Deans, C.A., Sword, GA and Behmer, S.T. (2016) Nutrition as a neglected factor in insect herbivore
     susceptibility to Bt toxins. Current Opinion in Insect Science 15, 97-103. [pdf]


Zera, A.J., Clark, R.M. and Behmer, S.T. (2016) Lipogenesis in a wing-polymorphic cricket:
     Canalization versus morph-specific plasticity as a function of nutritional heterogeneity.
     Journal of Insect Physiology 95, 118-132. [pdf]


Cook, S.C., Eubanks, M.D., Gold, R.E. and Behmer, S.T. (2016) Summer and fall ants have
     different physiological responses to food macronutrient content. Journal of Insect
87, 35-44. [pdf]


Behmer, S.T. (2016) Virtual Issue: Nutritional Ecology. Journal of Animal Ecology.


Lenhart, P.A., Eubanks, M.D., and Behmer, S.T. (2015) Water stress in grasslands: dynamic
     responses of plants and insect herbivores. Oikos 128, 381-390. [pdf]


Clark, R.M., Zera, A.J. and Behmer, S.T. (2015) Nutritional physiology of life-history trade-offs:
     how food protein-carbohydrate content influences life-history traits in the wing-polymorphic
     cricket Gryllus firmus. The Journal of Experimental Biology 218, 298-308. [pdf]


Deans, C.A., Sword, G.A. and Behmer, S.T. (2015) Revisiting macronutrient regulation in the
     polyphagous herbivore Helicoverpa zea (Lepidoptera: Noctuidae): New insights via
     nutritional geometry. Journal of Insect Physiology 81, 21-27. [pdf]


Caballero, I., Sakla, A.J., Detwiler, J.T., Le Gall, M.*, Behmer, S.T. and Criscione, C.D. (2015)
     Physiological status drives metabolic rate in Mediterranean geckos infected with pentastomes.
     PLoS ONE 10, e0144477. [pdf]


Deans, C.A., Behmer, S.T., Kay, A. and Voelz, N. (2015) The influence of enrichment and

     dissolved N:P ratios on mayfly (Baetis spp.) growth in high-nutrient detritus-based streams.
     Hydrobiologia 742, 298-308. [pdf]


Roeder, K.A. and Behmer, S.T. (2014) Lifetime consequences of food protein-carbohydrate
     content for an insect herbivore.
Functional Ecology 28, 1135-1143. [pdf]


Le Gall, M. and Behmer, S.T. (2014) Effects of protein and carbohydrate on an insect herbivore: the
     vista from a fitness landscape. Integrative and Comparative Biology 54, 1135-1143. [pdf]


Jing, X., Grebenok, R.J. and Behmer, S.T. (2014) Balance matters: How the ratio of dietary

     steroids affects caterpillar development, growth and reproduction. Journal of Insect
 67: 85-96. [pdf]


Bouvaine, S., Faure, M-L., Grebenok, R. J., Behmer, S.T., and Douglas, A.E. (2014)

     A dietary test of putative deleterious sterols for the aphid Myzus persicae.

     PLoS ONE 9, e86256. [pdf]


Clark, R.M., McConnell, A., Zera, A.J., and Behmer, S.T. (2013) Nutrient regulation strategies
     differ between cricket morphs that trade-off dispersal and reproduction.
Functional Ecology 27, 1126-1133. [pdf]


Jing, X., Grebenok, R.J., and Behmer, S.T. (2013) Sterol/steroid metabolism and absorption in a
     generalist and specialist caterpillar: Effects of dietary sterol/steroid structure, mixture
     and ratio.
Insect Biochemistry and Molecular Biology 43, 580-587. [pdf]


Thompson, B.M., Grebenok, R.J., Behmer, S.T., and Gruner, D.S. (2013) Microbial
     symbionts shape the sterol profile of the xylem-feeding woodwasp, Sirex noctilio.
Journal of Chemical Ecology 39, 129-139. [pdf]


Behmer, S.T., Olszewski, N., Sebastiani, J., Palka, S., Sparacino, G., Sciarrno, E., and
     Grebenok, R.J. (2013) Plant phloem sterol content: forms, putative functions,
     and implications for phloem-feeding insects. Frontiers in Plant
4, 370. [pdf]


Joern, A., Provin, T. and Behmer, S.T. (2012) Not just the usual suspects: Insect herbivore
     populations and communities are associated with multiple plant nutrients.
Ecology 93, 1002-1015. [pdf]


Behmer, S.T. and Joern, A. (2012) Insect herbivores viewed through a physiological
     framework: insights from Orthoptera. In
Insect Outbreaks Revisited (eds. P. Barbosa,
     D.K. Letourneau and A.A. Agrawal), pp 3-29. Wiley-Blackwell, Chichester, U.K.


Jing, X., Grebenok, R.J., and Behmer, S.T. (2012) Plant sterols and host plant suitability for
     generalist and specialist caterpillars.
Journal of Insect Physiology 58, 235-244. [pdf]


Jing, X., Vogel, H., Grebenok, R.J., Zhu-Salzman, and Behmer, S.T. (2012) Dietary sterols/
     steroids and the generalist caterpillar Helicoverpa zea: Physiology, biochemistry and midgut
     gene expression.
Insect Biochemistry and Molecular Biology. [pdf]


Bouvaine, S., Behmer, S.T., Lin, G.G., Faure, M-L., Grebenok, R.J., and Douglas, A.E. (2012)
     The physiology of sterol nutrition in the pea aphid Acyrthosiphon pisum. Journal of
     Insect Physiology
. [pdf]


Cook, S.C., Wynalda, R.A., Gold, R.E., and Behmer, S.T. (2012) Macronutrient regulation in the
     Rasberry crazy ant
(Nylanderia sp. nr. pubens). Insect Sociaux 59, 93-100. [pdf]


Behmer, S.T. ( 2012) Ecological and environmental physiology of insects. Ecology 93:
     2772-2773. (note: this was an invited book review)


Cook, S.C., Eubanks, M.D., Gold, R.E., and Behmer, S.T. (2011) Seasonality directs contrasting
     food collection behavior and nutrient regulation strategies of an insect society
PLoS ONE 6, e25407. [pdf]


Behmer, S.T., Grebenok, R.J., and Douglas, A.E. (2011) Plant sterols and host plant suitability
     for a phloem-feeding insect.
Functional Ecology 25, 484-491. [pdf]


Goeriz Pearson, R.E., Behmer, S.T., Gruner, D.S., and Denno, R.F. (2011) Effects of diet quality
     on performance and nutrient regulation in an omnivorous katydid.
Ecological Entomology
36, 471-479. [pdf]


Chi, Y.H., Jing, X., Lei, J., Ahn, J-E., Koo, Y.D., Yun, D-J., Lee, S.Y., Behmer, S.T.,
     Koiwa, H., and Zhu-Salzman, K.
(2011) Stability of AtVSP in the insect digestive
     canal determines its definsive capability.
Journal of Insect Physiology
57, 391-399. [pdf]


Cook, S.C., Eubanks, M.D., Gold, R.E., and Behmer, S.T. (2010) Colony-level nutrient
     regulation in ants: mechanisms, hoarding and associated costs.
79, 429-437. [pdf]


Cook, S.C. and Behmer, S.T. (2010) Macronutrient regulation in the tropical terrestrial ant,
Ectatomma ruidum (Formicidae): a field study. Biotropica 42, 135-139. [pdf]


Roeder, K.A., Kuriachan, I. Vinson, S.B. and Behmer, S.T. (2010) Evaluation of a microbial
in artificial diets of a generalist caterpillar, Heliothis virescens. Joruanl of Insect
10, Article 197.


Behmer, S.T. (2009) Insect herbivore nutrient regulation. Annual Review of
54, 165-187. (click here for a free PDF)


Behmer, S.T. (2009) Animal behaviour: feeding the superorganism. Current Biology 19,

     R366-R368. [pdf]


Janson, E.M. Grebenok, R.J., Behmer, S.T., and Abbot, P. (2009) Same host-plant, different
     sterols: variation in sterol metabolism in an insect herbivore community.
Journal of
     Chemical Ecology
. 35, 1309-1319. [pdf]


Warbrick-Smith, J., Simpson, S.J. Raubenheimer, D. and Behmer, S.T. (2009). Three hundred
     and fifty generations of extreme food specialization: testing a prediction of nutritional
Entomologia Experimentalis et Applicata 132, 65-75. [pdf]


Behmer, S.T. and Joern, A. (2008) Coexisting generalist herbivores occupy unique
     nutritional feeding niches.
Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences,
105, 1977-1982. [pdf]


Boswell, A.W., Provin, T. and Behmer, S.T. (2008) The relationship between body mass and
     elemental composition in nymphs of the grasshopper
Schistocerca americana. Journal
     of Orthoptra Research
17, 1-7. [pdf]


Pompilio, L, Kacelnik, A. and Behmer, S.T. (2006) State-dependent learned valuation drives
     choice in an invertebrate.
Science 313, 1613-1615. [pdf]


Warbrick-Smith, J., Behmer, S.T., Lee, K.P., Raubenheimer, D. and Simpson, S.J. (2006) 
     Evolving resistance to obesity in an insect.
Proceedings of the National Academy
     of Sciences, USA
103, 14045-14049. [pdf]


Lee, K.W., Behmer, S.T. and Simpson, S.J. (2006) Nutrient regulation in
     relation to diet breadth: a comparison of
Heliothis sister species and a hybrid.
The Journal of Experimental Biology 209, 2076-2084. [pdf]


Behmer, S.T. (2006) Insect dietary needs: plants as food for insects. In: Encyclopedia
     of Plant and Crop Science
(Ed. R. M. Goodman), pp. 1.4. Marcel Dekker Publishers,
     New York, NY.


Behmer, S.T., Belt, C.E and Shapiro, M.S. (2005) Variable rewards and
     discrimination ability in an insect herbivore: what and how does a hungry
     locust learn?
The Journal of Experimental Biology 208, 3463-3473. [pdf]


Behmer, S.T., Lloyd, C.M., Raubenheimer, D., Stewart-Clark, J., Knight, J., Leighton, R.S.,
     Harris, F.A. and Smith, J.A.C.
(2005) Metal hyperaccumulation in plants: mechanisms
     of defence against insect herbivores.
Functional Ecology 19, 55-66. [pdf]


Behmer, S.T. (2004) Nutrition in Insects. In: Encyclopedia of Entomology (Ed. J. Capinera),
     pp. 1576-1583. Kluwer Academic Publishers, Dordrecht, The Netherlands.


Behmer, S.T. (2004) Learning in Insects. In: Encyclopedia of Entomology (Ed. J. Capinera),
     pp. 1278-1283. Kluwer Academic Publishers, Dordrecht, The Netherlands.


Simpson, S.J., Sibly, R.M., Lee, K., Behmer, S.T. and Raubenheimer, D. (2004)
     Optimal foraging with multiple nutrient requirements.
Animal Behaviour
68, 1299-1311. [pdf]


Opstad, R., Rogers, S.M., Behmer, S.T. and Simpson, S.J. (2004) Behavioural correlates
     of phenotypic plasticity in mouthpart
 chemoreceptor numbers in locusts. Journal of
     Insect Physiology
50, 725-736. [pdf]


Behmer, S.T. and Nes, W. D. (2003) Insect sterol nutrition and physiology: a global overview.
Advances in Insect Physiology 31, 1-72. [pdf]


Behmer, S.T., Raubenheimer, D. and Simpson, S.J. (2003) The effects of distance between
     foods on nutrient
regulation in a highly mobile insect herbivore. Animal Behaviour
     66, 665-675.


Lee, K.P., Raubenheimer, D, Behmer, S.T. and Simpson, S.J. (2003) A correlation
     between macronutrient balancing and
 insect host-plant range: evidence from the
     specialist caterpillar
Spodoptera exempta (Walker). Journal of Insect
49, 1161-1171. [pdf]


Behmer, S.T., Simpson, S.J. and Raubenheimer, D. (2002) Herbivore foraging in
heterogeneous environments: nutrients and secondary metabolites.
     Ecology 83, 2489-2501.


van der Zee, B., Behmer, S.T. and Simpson, S.J. (2002) Food mixing strategies in the
     desert locust:
effects of phase, distance between foods and food nutrient
     content. Entomologia Experimentalis et Applicata 103, 227-237.


Lee, K.W., Behmer, S.T., Raubenheimer, D. and Simpson, S.J. (2002) A geometric analysis
     of nutrient
regulation in the generalist caterpillar Spodoptera littoralis (Boisduval).
     Journal of Insect Physiology 48, 655-665.


Simpson, S.J., Raubenheimer, D., Behmer, S.T., Whitworth, A. and Wright, G.A. (2002)
     A comparison of
nutritional regulation in solitarious and gregarious phase nymphs
     of the desert locust, Schistocerca gregaria. The Journal of Experimental
205, 121-129.


Behmer, S.T., Raubenheimer, D. and Simpson, S.J. (2001) Frequency-dependent food
     selection in locusts: a
geometric analysis of the role of nutrient balancing. Animal
     Behaviour 61, 995-1005.


Behmer, S.T. and Elias, D.O. (2000) Sterol metabolic constraints as a factor contributing
     to the maintenance of
diet mixing in grasshoppers (Orthoptera: Acrididae). Physiological
     and Biochemical Zoology
73, 219-230.


Frazier, M.R., Harrison, J.F. and Behmer, S.T. (2000) Effects of diet on titratable acid-base
     excretion in
grasshoppers. Physiological and Biochemical Zoology 73, 66-76. [pdf]


Behmer, S.T., Elias, D.O. and Bernays, E.A. (1999) Post-ingestive feedbacks and
     associative learning regulate
the intake of unsuitable sterols in a generalist
     grasshopper. The Journal of Experimental Biology 202, 739-748.


Behmer, S.T., Elias, D.O. and Grebenok, R.J. (1999) Phytosterol metabolism and
     absorption in the generalist
grasshopper Schistocerca americana (Orthoptera: Acrididae).
     Archives of Insect Biochemistry and Physiology 42, 13-25.


Behmer, S.T. and Elias, D.O. (1999) The nutritional significance of sterol metabolic
     constraints in the
generalist grasshopper Schistocerca americana. Journal of
     Insect Physiology
45, 339-348.


Behmer, S.T. and Elias, D.O. (1999) Phytosterol structure as a basis of food aversion
     learning in the
grasshopper Schistocerca americana (Orthoptera: Acrididae).
     Physiological Entomology 24, 18-27.


Behmer, S.T. and Grebenok, R.J. (1998) Impact of dietary sterols on life-history traits of
     a caterpillar.
Physiological Entomology 23, 165-175. [pdf]


Joern, A. and Behmer, S.T. (1998) Impact of diet quality on demographic attributes in
     adult grasshoppers and
the nitrogen limitation hypothesis. Ecological Entomology
     23, 174-184. [pdf]


Joern, A. and Behmer, S.T. (1997) Importance of dietary nitrogen and carbohydrates to
     survival, growth and
reproduction in adults of the grasshopper Ageneotettix deorum
      (Orthoptera: Acrididae). Oecologia 112, 201-208. [pdf]


Chambers, P., Sword, G., Angel, J., Behmer, S. and Bernays, E.A. (1996) Foraging by
     generalist grasshoppers:
dietary mixing and the role of crypsis. Animal
     Behaviour 52, 155-165.


Behmer, S. and Joern, A. (1994) The influence of proline on diet selection: sex-specific
     feeding preferences by
the grasshoppers Ageneotettix deorum and Phoetaliotes
     nebrascensis (Orthoptera: Acrididae). Oecologia 98, 76-82. [pdf]


Behmer, S. and Joern, A. (1993) Diet choice by a grass-feeding grasshopper based on the
     need for a limiting
nutrient. Functional Ecology 7, 522-527. [pdf]

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