Amy M. Worthington
Amy M. Worthington

Amy M. Worthington

Assistant Professor
College of Arts and Sciences

Expertise/Specializations

  • Behavioral ecology
  • Insect physiology
  • Evolutionary biology

Academic Appointments

Department

  • Biology

Position

  • Assistant Professor

Teaching Activity

  • Biol 449 - Animal Physiology
  • Biol 450 - Animal Physiology Lab

Biography

Dr. Amy Worthington attended the University of South Dakota for her B.S. in Biology. After graduation, she continued on at USD to earn a M.S. degree studying the anti-predator behaviors of stalk-eyed flies and manage a long-term project dedicated to conserving the federally-endangered Hine's Emerald dragonfly. For the next five years, she researched mating behavior in field crickets at Iowa State University as she earned her Ph.D. in Ecology and Evolutionary Biology. Dr. Worthington then transitioned into a postdoctoral fellowship at Washington State University where she worked on the development of sexually selected weapons in rhinoceros beetles and the hormonal mechanisms mediating wing polymorphism in crickets. In addition to her work, Dr. Worthington and her husband enjoy traveling, gardening, playing games with friends, and spending time with their families and newborn daughter Juniper. 

Education

  • B.S. in Biology
  • M.S. in Biology
  • Ph.D. in Ecology and Evolutionary Biology

Publications and Presentations

Articles

  • Females gain direct benefits from immune-boosting ejaculates, Evolution, 70, 928-933, 2016
  • Direct costs and benefits of multiple mating: Are high female mating rates due to ejaculate replenishment? In: Behavioural Processes, 124, 115-122, 2016
  • Mating for male-derived prostaglandin: a functional explanation for the increased fecundity of mated female crickets?, Journal of Experimental Biology, 218, 2720-2727, 2015
  • Evaluating indices of body condition in two cricket species. In: Ecology and Evolution, doi: 10.1002/ece3.1257, 2014
  • Do male crickets strategically adjust the number and viability of their sperm under sperm competition? In: Animal Behaviour, 86, 55-60, 2013
  • Size matters, but so does shape: quantifying complex shape changes in a sexually selected trait in stalk-eyed flies (Diptera:Diopsidae). In: Biological Journal of the Linnean Society, 106, 104-113, 2012
  • Sequential analysis reveals behavioral differences underlying female-biased predation risk in stalk-eyed flies. In: Ethology, 17, 829-837, 2011
  • Influence of roadways on patterns of mortality and flight behavior of adult dragonflies in wetland areas. In: Biological Conservation, 144, 1638-1643, 2011
  • Gender differences in survival and anti-predatory behavior in stalk-eyed flies. In: Behavioral Ecology, 21, 759-766, 2010

Editing and Reviews

  • Book review of Quantifying Behavior the JWatcher Way. In: The Condor, 11, 202-203, 2010

Presentations

  • Worthington AM and Lavine LC. The role of larval immune activation on adult weapon development in the rhinoceros beetle, Trypoxylus dichotomus. Pacific Branch Meeting of the Entomological Society of America, Honolulu, HI. (Poster presentation)., 2016
  • Lavine MD, Hust JA, Gotoh H, Worthington AM, and Lavine LC. The Fat signaling pathway regulates isometric growth of horns and other appendages in Trypoxylus dichotomus. Pacific Branch Meeting of the Entomological Society of America, Honolulu, HI. (Oral presentation.), 2016
  • “The secret lives of crickets: Trade-offs between reproduction and survival”, Biology Department, Gonzaga University, 2016
  • Worthington AM* and Kelly CD. Mating to acquire ejaculate-derived compounds that confer fitness benefits. Presented in “Evolutionary Endocrinology” symposium at the Society for Integrative and Comparative Biology, Portland, OR (Oral presentation)., 2016
  • “Direct benefits of mating: Ejaculates increase female fecundity and immunity after mating”, School of Biological Sciences BioLunch, Washington State University, 2015
  • “Being promiscuous has its benefits: Ejaculates increase fecundity and immunity in female crickets”, Entomology Colloquium, Washington State University, 2015
  • “Too Legit to quit”, Lewis-Clark State College, 2014
  • Worthington AM* and Kelly CD. Do females gain direct benefits from immune- boosting ejaculates in the Texas field cricket? Society for Integrative and Comparative Biology, Austin, TX. Also at Ecology and Evolutionary Biology Spring Symposium, Ames, IA. (Oral presentation), 2014
  • Elliott ER*, Coffman CR, Reason RD, Sakaguchi D, Howell SH, and Worthington AM. Integrating active learning into a large introductory course: Preparing students for success in science. Experimental Biology, Boston, MA. (Poster presentation), 2013
  • Elliot ER*, Coffman C, Reason R, and Worthington AM. Faculty learning communities as a mechanism for course transformation. Center for Excellence in Teaching and Learning Symposium, Ames, IA. (Poster presentation), 2013

Research and Scholarship

Research and Scholarship Interests

  • Broadly, I am fascinated by bizarre morphologies and behaviors that are the result of sexual selection. Specifically, I am interested in the functional and physiological costs of these traits. I focus on trade-offs between reproduction and immunity, but also investigate topics such as sperm competition, the benefits of polyandry, and the molecule/hormonal mechanisms responsible for life-history tradeoffs. I work with a diverse array of invertebrate taxa (stalk-eyed flies, jumping spiders, dragonflies, crayfish, snails, and rhinoceros beetles) in my research.

Current Research Projects

  • A central theme of my research is investigating how organisms mediate critical life history trade-offs between reproduction, growth, and survival. I am particularly interested in the environmental and physiological cues used by individuals to maximize reproductive fitness via selective investment in 1) offspring production, 2) immunocompetence, 3) primary and secondary sexual traits, 4) somatic maintenance, and 5) dispersal. I currently investigate the above concepts using two species of crickets: Gryllus texensis and Gryllus firmus.

Grant Funding Received

  • NSF-IOS Collaborative research proposal. Title = Role of insulin signaling in life history trade-offs in wing polymorphic crickets

Awards and Honors

  • Peer Teaching Award, Iowa State University Graduate and Professional Student Senate, 2016