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Kenneth R. Hobson

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Kenneth R. Hobson

Associate Professor of Biology

Ph.D. University of California, Berkeley
M.S. University of Washington
A.B. University of North Carolina
405-325-8136 (Phone)
405-325-6202 (Fax)
RH 407


I am interested in understanding the causes and ecological consequences of insect behavior. Much of my research has dealt with scolytid bark beetles, using them as a model system to examine how proximal causes such as insect host selection decisions can produce ultimate effects such as bark beetle outbreaks that kill mature trees across large forest areas.

I have worked with the genus Dendroctonus in mixed coniferous forests of the Sierra Nevada in California to determine what host tree cues trigger selection and beetle attack. I examined beetle-produced pheromones in Rocky Mountain lodgepole pine forests in Idaho and Utah to determine how population stage and beetle quality affect response to aggregation and spacing signals. I worked in Wisconsin red pine forests with Ips bark beetles to examine how subtle differences in pheromone signals can structure a community of tree feeding insects and the predators that use the same pheromone signals to find and consume the signaling beetles.
As a forest ecologist I am interested in peri-urban forest environments. I regularly visit and monitor a small woodland adjacent to the campus. Oliver's Woods is a 70-acre river bottom woodland and wildlife preserve. It comprises stands of large diameter bur oak, hackberry and elm in one quarter. Another section is dominated by large pecan trees. A third portion grades from a cattail swamp and small ponds, to a seasonally flooded forest with dense young green ash regeneration. The Woods has a busy highway along the northern perimeter now; but a small herd of white-tailed deer are found there; as are opossums, raccoons, owls, armadillos, hawks, skunks, coyotes, cottontail rabbits, and bobcats. I see the woodland as an ecological canary-in-a-coal-mine where it is possible to detect environmental stress and invasive species and document ecological changes. I am particularly interested in the populations of wood-boring beetles in the Woods.

Students with interests in insect ecology, insect behavior or forest entomology are welcome to work with me. Students who will do the best have keen curiosity about natural phenomena and good critical thinking that fosters their own creativity.