Year of Publication


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Document Type

Doctoral Dissertation


Agriculture, Food and Environment



First Advisor

Dr. Nicholas M. Teets


Given their abundance and diversity, arthropods are an excellent system to investigate biological responses to winter. Winter conditions are being majorly impacted by climate change, and therefore understanding the overwintering biology of arthropods is critical for predicting ecological responses to climate change. In Chapters 2 and 3, I investigate the winter biology of a winter-active wolf spider. I show that winter-active spiders can take advantage of periodic prey resources and grown in the winter, which may allow them to get a jumpstart on spring reproduction. I also investigate spiders’ ability to track changes in their environment by quantifying low temperature thresholds associated with simulated winter warming and show that winter warming may make spiders more susceptible to extreme cold events. In Chapter 4, I address ecological factors that influence the distribution of an Antarctic insect, showing that population density is primarily regulated by the availability of suitable habitat. Finally, I designed a laboratory module for an introductory science course that incorporates principles of phenotypic plasticity and climate change to illustrate biological responses to climate change. Taken together, these studies improve our understanding of the overwintering physiology and ecology of arthropods, with wide applications including biological control, spatial ecology, and pedagogy.

Digital Object Identifier (DOI)

Funding Information

USDA AFRI 2018-2020