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Photo of David Clark DAVID CLARK

David Clark was born in Bay City, Michigan in 1959 and grew up in a country home near Shepherd, Michigan. He went to college at Central Michigan University where he earned a bachelor's degree and a master's degree in biology. At CMU, Dave worked with Dr. James Gillingham on reptile courting and mating behavior. For his master's research, he studied the sleeping habits of lizards on the island of Puerto Rico. It was a trip to Puerto Rico that got Dave interested in spiders when he discovered that lizards that didn't make it back to their sleep sites at night were being preyed upon by large hunting spiders. Dave received his Ph.D. in Biology (1992) at the University of Cincinnati where he worked with Dr. George Uetz on jumping spiders.

While Dave was studying mate choice in jumping spiders, he discovered by accident that they responded to projected images. He was watching an 8 mm film of a courting male jumping spider projected on the wall in the room in which female jumping spiders were housed. Out of the corner of his eye, Dave noticed that the females in their cages were also watching the film. Since movie films and video images are projected in a similar manner, Dave tested female jumping spiders to determine how they would respond to video sequences of courting males. The females responded to the video images of the males as if they were real live spiders. This has allowed more sophisticated experiments using computer animation to alter the morphology and behavior of test stimuli to be conducted.

In 1992, Dave moved back to Michigan and joined the faculty of Alma College where he is now an associate professor in the Department of Biology. Since starting his own lab, Dave has worked with many undergraduates on projects using the video imaging techniques that he developed. In addition to spiders, Dave has been using video animation to study the behavior of lizards, fish and insects at Alma College.

See David Clark's answers to Ask the Scientists questions.


Scientific American Frontiers
Fall 1990 to Spring 2000
Sponsored by GTE Corporation,
now a part of Verizon Communications Inc.