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Associate Dean for Student Affairs, College of Science and Mathematics
The fundamental mechanism of natural selection is differential reproduction: selection favors individuals that reproduce better than others. Dr. Kight is interested in understanding how and why animals make decisions about this critical biological event. Generally using invertebrate animals as model species, Dr. Kight and his students investigate why some animals take care of their young (when most species do not) and when/why these caregivers decide to stop investing in offspring. Sometimes these questions require understanding how animals interact with other species, such as predators. Dr. Kight and his students are currently turning their attention to how reproductive decisions are related to ecological competition between invasive and native species.
Refereed Publications (* denotes student co-author)
Herbert-Berger, K.G., Goodey, N., Ruczszyk, S., Kight, S.L., & Marlowe, T.J. 2019. Infusing CS graduate transition curriculum with professional, technical and data science competencies. Proceedings of the 50th ACM Technical Symposium on Computer Science Education. https://doi.org/10.1145/3287324.3293828
Kight, S.L., *Coffey, G.L., *Tanner, A.W., *Dmytriw, M.P., *Tedesco, S.L., *Hoang, J. and *Aboagye, A.K. 2018. Recent changes in reproductive phenology of a K-selected aquatic insect predator, Belostoma flumineum Say (Heteroptera, Belostomatidae). Bulletin of Entomological Research. 1-6.
*Casner, A.M., *Fackelman, H.C., *Degtyareva, O. & Kight, S.L. 2016. Do female Western
Mosquitofish, Gambusia affinis, prefer ornaments that males lack? Ethology. 122: 1-10.
*Zimmerman, K.I. & Kight, S.L. 2016. Responses of four arthropod prey species to mechanosensory, chemosensory and visual cues from an arachnid predator: A comparative approach. Life: The Excitement of Biology. 4: 113-134.
*Hegarty, K.G. & Kight, S.L. 2014. Do predator cues influence turn alternation behavior in terrestrial isopods Porcellio laevis Latreille and Armadillidium vulgare Latreille? Behavioural Processes. 106: 168-171.
Kight, S.L., *Tanner, A.W., *Coffey, G.L. 2011. Termination of brooding in male giant
waterbugs is associated with season, egg pad size, and presence of females. Invertebrate Reproduction and Development. 55:197-204.
Kight, S.L. 2008. Reproductive ecology of terrestrial isopods (Crustacea: Oniscidea). Terrestrial Arthropod Reviews. 1:95-110.
Kight, S.L., *Steelman, L., *Coffey, G., *Lucente, J., & *Castillo, M. 2008. Evidence of population-level lateralized behaviour in giant waterbugs, Belostoma flumineum Say (Heteroptera: Belostomatidae): T-maze turning is left biased. Behavioural Processes. 79: 66-69.
Houghtaling, K. & Kight, S.L. 2006. Turn alternation in response to substrate vibration by terrestrial isopods, Porcellio laevis (Isopoda: Oniscidea) from rural and urban habitats in New Jersey, USA. Entomological News. 117: 149-154.
Kight, S.L., Gaynor, J.J. & Adams, S.A. 2006. Undergraduate research communities: A powerful approach to research training. Journal of College Science Teaching. 35: 34-39.
Castillo, M.E. & Kight, S.L. 2005. Response of terrestrial isopods, Armadillidium vulgare and Porcellio laevis (Isopoda: Oniscidea) to the ant Tetramorium caespitum: Morphology, behavior and reproductive success. Invertebrate Reproduction and Development. 47:183-190.
Kight, S.L., Eadie, C., Lynch, D., Coelho, J. & DeWera, A. 2005. Classical conditioning of red-backed salamanders, Plethodon cinereus. Bulletin of the Maryland Herpetological Society. 41:68-84.
Kight, S.L. & Nevo, M. 2004. Female terrestrial isopods, Porcellio laevis Latreille (Isopoda: Oniscidea) reduce brooding duration and fecundity in response to physical stress. Journal of the Kansas Entomological Society. 77:285-287.
Kight, S.L. & Hashemi, A. 2003. Diminished food resources are associated with delayed reproduction or increased post-reproductive mortality in brood-bearing terrestrial isopods, Armadillidium vulgare Latreille. Entomological News. 114: 61-68.
Kight, S.L. & Ozga, M. 2002. Costs of reproduction in the terrestrial isopod Porcellio
laevis Latreille (Isopoda: Oniscidea): brood-bearing and locomotion. Journal of the Kansas Entomological Society. 74:166-171.
Kight, S.L., Martinez, M. & Merkulov, A. 2001. Body size and survivorship in overwintering populations of Porcellio laevis (Isopoda: Oniscidea). Entomological News. 112: 112-118.
Kight, S.L., Batino, M. and Zhang, Z. 2000. Temperature-dependent parental investment in giant waterbugs, Belostoma flumineum Say (Heteroptera: Belostomatidae). Annals of the Entomological Society of America. 93:340-342.
Kight, S.L. 2000. Altered photocyclic regimes influence the duration of maternal care in a burrower bug (Heteroptera: Cydnidae). Entomological News. 111:67-73. \s
Kight, S.L. and Cseke, J.J. 1999. The effects of ambient temperature on the duration of maternal care in a burrower bug (Heteroptera: Cydnidae). Journal of the Kansas Entomological Society. 71:183-187.
Kight, S.L. 1998. Precocene II modifies maternal responsiveness in the burrower bug, Sehirus cinctus (Heteroptera). Physiological Entomology. 23:38-42.
Krall, B.S., Zilkowski, B.W., Kight, S.L., Bartelt, R.J. & Whitman, D.W. 1997. Chemistry and defensive efficacy of the secretion of the burrower bug (Sehirus cinctus cinctus). Journal of Chemical Ecology. 23:1951-1962.
Kight, S.L. 1997. Factors influencing maternal behavior in a burrower bug, Sehirus cinctus, (Hemiptera: Cydnidae). Animal Behaviour. 53:105-112
Kight, S.L. 1996. Post-conflict behavior in Japanese macaques at the Indianapolis zoo: Age of opponents influences reconciliation. Proceedings of the Indiana Academy of Science. 105:269-276.
Kight, S.L., Rozema Jenkins, J. & Ng, B. 1996. Differential contact behavior by female whirligig beetles, Dineutus assimilis Kirby (Coleoptera: Gyrinidae). Journal of the Kansas Entomological Society. 69:360-362
Kight, S.L. 1996. Concaveation and maintenance of maternal behavior in a burrower bug \s(Sehirus cinctus): A comparative perspective. Journal of Comparative Psychology. 110:69-76
Kight, S.L., Sprague, J., Kruse, K.C. & Johnson, L. 1995. Are egg-bearing male water bugs, Belostoma flumineum Say (Hemiptera: Belostomatidae), impaired swimmers? Journal of the Kansas Entomological Society 68:468-470.
Kight, S.L. 1995. Do maternal burrower bugs, Sehirus cinctus Palisot (Heteroptera: Cydnidae), use spatial and chemical cues for egg-discrimination? Canadian Journal of Zoology 73:815-817.
Kight, S.L. & K.C. Kruse. 1992. Factors affecting the allocation of paternal care in waterbugs (Belostoma flumineum Say). Behavioral Ecology and Sociobiology 30:409-414.
Turn alternation behavior in giant waterbugs, Belostoma flumineum.
Animals - and even some single celled organisms - are known to make alternating left and right sequential turns when correcting for locomotion along a straight line. This behavior is often associated with escape behavior, as in the context of prey moving away from a predator, or in migratory behavior, as in the context of an animal moving toward a specific destination. We are presently investigating whether swimming insects exhibit such behavior in response to cues in the water that are associated with the presence or absence of predators. Our results are indicating that specific predators elicit turn alternation in giant waterbugs, but other predatory species do not. We are curious whether this reflects historical relationships between prey and some, but not all, predators in a particular habitat.
Interspecific competition between an invasive cockroach species, Blatta lateralis, and other cockroach species.
The Turkestan cockroach, Blatta lateralis, was introduced to the western United States within the last few decades and has become invasive, extending its range across the southern states. We are curious to what degree behavior might be associated with the ability of the species to either coexist or outcompete species of cockroach already present in these regions. To this end, we are examining behavioral interactions in controlled laboratory experiments, between B. lateralis and several other species, including German cockroaches, American cockroaches and Dubia cockroaches. Our preliminary results indicate that interspecific behavioral interactions, such as aggression, use of habitat, and maze behavior, vary depending on the developmental stage, sex and species.
Phenology shifts in the breeding season of giant waterbugs in New Jersey.
We are documenting a shift over the last decade in the timing of breeding in a local population of giant waterbugs, Belostoma flumineum. These aquatic insects historically had two breedings seasons, one in the spring and one in the fall. For the last several years, however, they do not appear to breed in the fall under natural conditions, and laboratory experiments indicate that even under optimum conditions breeding is delayed by several months and associated with increased mortality and abandonment of young. We hypothesize that this effect may be associated with global patterns of climate change in which trophic interactions between primary producers and pollinators/herbivores have altered wood webs such that second or third tier carnivores (like giant waterbugs) are affected by food limitations.