Jennifer AppleAssociate Professor of Biology
Dr. Jennifer Apple has been a member of the Geneseo faculty since 2007.
Office Hours Fall 2022
More About Me
I am an ecologist who focuses primarily on species interactions involving insects, spiders, and/or plants using both field-based approaches and molecular methods. Learn more about me below:
- My research
Since at SUNY Geneseo, my main research efforts have focused on the ecology and population genetics of dulotic ants, Formica subintegra and Formica pergandei (also known as slavemaking ants). These ants are social parasites - they raid the colonies of other ant species (one in particular in the Arboretum, Formica glacialis), kidnap their brood (immature ants, generally as pupae), and when those brood mature in the raiding species' nest, they end up working for their captors. The captured ants do all the foraging for the dulotic ants' colony, take care of their offspring, perform nest maintenance...all the activities they would normally do in their own colonies, but they happen to benefit a different species instead of their own relatives.
Formica subintegra ants raiding a nest of Formica glacialis to capture brood which will become their labor force. (Photo by Sara Lewandowski '11).
Another project I recently started involves an ant-mimicking spider (which I would often see when I was observing my ant colonies). This spider, Myrmarachne formicaria, is in the jumping spider family, but resembles ants in both its morphology and behavior. To pull off the charade, it raises its first set of legs like a pair of antennae, so it appears to be a 6-legged insect instead of an 8-legged spider. This species is native to Eurasia and was introduced to North America relatively recently; so far it is found in Ontario, western New York, eastern Ohio, and northwest Pennsylvania.
Ant-mimicking spider, Myrmarachne formicaria: male (left), female (right)
- Mentoring student researchers
I mentor student researchers studying a variety of subjects relating to the ecology of insects, spiders, and plants, and their interactions, using both field methods and molecular techniques. Here are some examples of student research projects I have supervised recently:
Alli Menendez: Evaluating the use of artificial nests by native bees (2020 - 2021)
Julia Ophals and Niaomi VanAlstine: Success of Batesian mimicry in the ant-mimicking spider Myrmarachne formicaria (2020-2021)
Bea Dipzinski and Alanna Richman: Effectiveness of Batesian mimicry in the ant-mimicking spider Myrmarachne formicaria (2019-2020)
Cassidy Mills (2020 - present): Genetic diversity of a non-native ant-mimicking spider, Myrmarachne formicaria, in its invaded range
Daniel Fleischman: Genetic diversity of a non-native ant-mimicking spider, Myrmarachne formicaria, in the Great Lakes (2019-2020)
Samantha Muscat: Herbivory and arthropod abundance on native and invasive understory shrubs (2018-2019)
Alanna Richman: Relationship between the incidence of an ant-mimicking spider (Myrmarachne formicaria) and ant abundance and diversity (2018-2019)
- Christine Schultz: Exploration of fox den family dynamics using camera trap data. (2018-2019)
- Jacqueline Zhou: Display behaviors in encounters between males of the ant-mimicking spider Myrmarachne formicaria (2018-2019)
- Sam Heraghty: Patterns in native bee diversity: effects of floral resources and habitat (2017-2018).
- Ally Jones: Interactions between beech blight aphids, sooty mold fungus, and forest invertebrates (2017-2018)
- Emily Martin: Extended leaf phenology of the invasive Amur honeysuckle (2017-2018)
- Kevin Zablonski: Genetic comparison of slavemaking ant colonies to complement assays of aggression between nests (2017-2018)
- Courses I teach
Here are recent syllabi from courses I typically teach:
Biol 203 - Principles of Ecology
Biol 327 - Molecular Ecology (spring 2020 - last in-person offering)
- Roemer Arboretum
Since 2013, I have managed the Spencer J. Roemer Arboretum, which I encourage you to visit frequently! It is a lovely place to take a walk, relax, and to witness cool natural history. Check out our website and Facebook page. See some of the organisms reported there on our iNaturalist page.
- Past research adventures
I have been fortunate to have been able to pursue research in a variety of study systems and habitats--this photo collage provides an overview:
Ph.D. in Biology, University of Utah, May 2001
B.S. in Biology, University of Puget Sound, 1994
Ecology of plant-insect interactions
Apple, J.L., S.L. Lewandowski,* and J.L. Levine*. 2014. Nest relocation in the slavemaking ants Formica subintegra and F. pergandei: a response to host nest availability that increases raiding success. Insectes Sociaux 61:347-356. (* undergraduate co-authors)
Apple, J.L., T. Grace, A. Joern, P. St. Amand, and S.A. Wisely. 2010. Comparative genome scan detects host-related divergent selection in the grasshopper Hesperotettix viridis. Molecular Ecology 19:4012-4028.
Bishop, J.G., N. O?Hara, J.H. Titus, J.L. Apple, R.A. Gill, and L. Wynn. 2010. N-P co-limitation of primary production and response of arthropods to N and P in early primary succession on Mount St. Helens volcano. PLoS ONE 5:e13958.
Apple, J.L., M. Wink, S.E. Wills, and J.G. Bishop. 2009. Successional change in phosphorus stoichiometry explains the inverse relationship between herbivory and lupin density on Mount St. Helens. PLoS ONE 4:e7087.
Adamski, D.A., J.L. Apple, and J.G. Bishop. 2009. A new Filatima Busck (Lepidoptera: Gelechiidae) associated with lupine and early herbivore colonization on Mount St. Helens. Proceedings of the Entomological Society of Washington 111:293-304.
Grace, T., A. Joern, J.L. Apple, S.J. Brown, and S.M. Wisely. 2009. Highly polymorphic microsatellites in the North American snakeweed grasshopper Hesperotettix viridis. Journal of Orthoptera Research 18:19-21.
Apple, J.L., and D.A. Adamski. 2006. The biology of Chionodes hibiscella (Busck) with a description of the immature stages. Proceedings of the Entomological Society of Washington 108:575-582.
Gill, R.A., J.A. Boie, J.G. Bishop, L. Larsen, J.L. Apple, and R.D. Evans. 2006. Linking community and ecosystem development on Mount St. Helens. Oecologia 148:312-324.
Fagan, W.F., M.A. Lewis, M.G. Neubert, C. Aumann, J.L. Apple, and J.G. Bishop. 2005. When can herbivores slow or reverse the spread of an invading plant? A test case from Mount St. Helens. American Naturalist 166:669-685.
Apple, J.L., and D.H. Feener, Jr. 2001. Ant visitation of extrafloral nectaries of Passiflora: the effects of nectary attributes and ant behavior on patterns in facultative ant-plant mutualisms. Oecologia 127: 409-416.