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Photo of Susan Riechert SUSAN E. RIECHERT

Susan Riechert is Professor of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology and UTK Distinguished Service Professor at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville. Most of Susan's work is at the interface between behavior, ecology and evolutionary biology.

Her work in the desert southwest USA concerns the extent to which populations are at adaptive equilibria with respect to their physical and biotic environments. She pursues these studies through genetic analyses of fitness-linked traits, through species optimum and game theoretic analyses and simulations, and through field experimentation.

In East Tennessee, Susan's work centers on the potential role of spiders as biocontrol agents. Her interest here is in the extent to which generalist feeders can limit the growth of associated prey populations. Again, field experimentation and computer simulations are used to evaluate the predator-prey system that encompasses an assemblage of prey species being preyed upon by an assemblage of predators.

In west Africa, Susan studies the evolution of social behavior in an animal group that is generally highly territorial and even cannibalistic. The current interest in this system is in the extent to which the inbreeding that has led to sociality in spiders limits both individual viability (inbreeding depression) and population ability to adapt to changing environments (reduced genetic variability).

Riechert received her Ph.D. from the University of Wisconsin (Zoology: minor, Botany). She also earned her MA (Zoology) and BA (Zoology) from the University of Wisconsin, Madison. Since beginning her teaching and research career at the University of Tennessee in the 1970s, Riechert has also been a Visiting Professor at University of Sussex and Visiting Scholar at the University of California, Berkeley. She is married to Dr. Wilfred M. Post III, and has a teenage son, Brian.

See Susan Riechert's answers to Ask the Scientists questions.


University of Tennessee Biology Department

The Arachnological Hub of the World Wide Web

Animal Behavior Society (ABS)


A more extensive list of publications by subject area is provided at

Riechert, S. E. 1999. Using behavioral ecotypes to study evolutionary processes. In S. Foster & J. Endler eds. Geographic variation in behavior: Perspectives on evolutionary mechanisms. Oxford Univ. Press.

Riechert, S. E., Provencher, L. & K. Lawrence. 1999. The potential of spiders to exhibit stable equilibrium point control of prey: Tests of two criteria. Ecological Applications.

Riechert, S. E. 1998. Game theory and animal contests. In L.A. Dugatkin & H. K. Reeve eds. Game Theory and Animal Behavior. Oxford University Press, New York, pp. 64-92.

Riechert, S. E. & J. L. Maupin. 1998. Spider effects on prey: Tests for superfluous killing in five web-builders. pp. 203-210 in Selden, P. A. (ed.). Proceedings of the 17th European Colloquium of Arachnology, Edinburgh 1997. British Aarachnological Society: Burnham Beeches, Bucks. x + 350 pp.

Riechert, S. E. 1998. The role of spiders and their conservation in the agroecosystem. In Enhancing Biological Control (eds. C.H. Pickett and R. L. Bugg), Univ. Cal. Press. pp. 211-237.

Riechert , S. E. & K. Lawrence. 1997. Test for predation effects of single versus multiple species of generalist predators: spiders and their insect prey. Entomologia Experimentalis et applicata 84:147-155

See Susan Riechert's answers to Ask the Scientists questions about Spider Canyon.


Scientific American Frontiers
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