Dr. Carrel
Research Interests:
-- Chemical Ecology of Arthropods
I continue to investigate chemical defense mechanisms of insects, millipedes, and harvestmen.  Typically this work involves collection of secretion or tissues implicated in protection from enemies, organic chemical analyses of the biological materials, and bioassays of the protective effectiveness of defensive substances.  My specialty is using spiders as predators or potential targets of arthropod defenses.

Much of my research benefits from long-standing collaborations with Tom Eisner at Cornell University, John McCormick at Mizzou, and Mark Deyrup at the Archbold Biological Station.

Beetle bleeding
Beetle bleeding

Beetles mating

I am not actively involved in discovering novel defensive secretions.  But because we have learned so much in the past four decades about the biosynthesis, storage, and utilization of cantharidin in blister beetles (Coleoptera: Meloidae), I have several experiments in progress that build on this foundation.  For example, I am compiling data on naturally occurring attacks by orb-weaving spiders on free-ranging blister beetles that become entangled in spiders' webs.   Furthermore, I am determining if, after consuming cantharidin-laden prey, the spiders naturally assimilate the beetle's toxin into their tissues and thereby become unpalatable to some of their own enemies.


In addition, I am completing two projects on the role of cantharidin in mate choice in blister beetles.


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