Kit Muma

Retired Instructor, Biology


Research Interests

Neuroecology of Moth / Bat Interactions

During the summers I conduct research at the Queen's University Biological Station north of Kingston, Canada with James Fullard (Univ. of Toronto at Mississauga). In 2000 we studied the daily flight patterns of moths and butterflies and the defenses these insects have evolved against predation by bats. In 2001, I received a grant from the Provost's office at Ithaca College to study the auditory sensitivity of a diurnal (day-flying) moth (Trichodezia albovittata - Family Geometridae). In 2003, I had support from the Provost's office once again to study the auditory constraints and ultrasound sensitivity of moth ears with a focus on geometrids. Last summer I used a high-speed video camera to document the reaction of moths to ultrasonic pulses.

Host / Parasite Interactions involving Mites and Insects

During the summers of 1998 and 1999, I was involved in several projects examining host-parasite relationships in collaboration with Mark Forbes (Carleton University) and Bruce P. Smith (Ithaca College). We studied parasitism of two species of Sympetrum dragonflies by Arrenurus water mites. In another study we looked at mating in Arrenurus planus water mites. In 1999 the research was supported by a Summer Faculty Grant from the Provost at Ithaca College.

Behavioral Ecology of Red-winged Blackbirds

In my masters research I studied the variation in plumage of female red-winged blackbirds. I examined dominance interactions in a wild population and a captive group. I concluded that the colored epaulets on females serve no functional value and are a consequence of genetic correlation with males. I have continued my work on red-winged blackbirds by helping Patrick Weatherhead (Univ. of Illinios) collect data for a long-term study of the effect of climate change on nesting patterns and offspring sex ratios.

Representative Publications:

Moths and Bats:

Ratcliffe, J.M., A.R. Soutar, K.E. Muma, C. Guignion, J.H. Fullard. 2008. Anti-bat flight activity in sound-producing versus silent moths. Can. J. Zool. 86: 582-587.

Muma, K.E. and J.H. Fullard. 2004 Persistence of hearing in the exclusively diurnal moths, Trichodezia albovittata (Geometridae) and Lycomorpha pholus (Arctiidae) Ecological Entomology 29: 718-726.

Mites and dragonflies:

Forbes, M.R., K.E. Muma and B.P. Smith. 2004. Recapture of male and female dragonflies in relation to parasitism by mites, time of season, wing length and wing cell symmetry. Experimental and Applied Acarology 34:79-93

Red-winged Blackbirds:

Weatherhead, P.J., K.E. Muma, J.D. Maddox, J.M. Knox and K.W. Dufour. 2007. Morphology versus molecules: sexing red-winged blackbird nestlings. J. Field Ornith. 78: 428-435.