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Jerome Rovner

Professor Emeritus


Ph.D., University of Maryland

Research Interests

Biology of spiders: acoustic, chemical, and visual communication; reproductive behavior; predatory behavior; functional morphology; and adaptive uses of silk.


As a graduate student specializing in ethology, I conducted studies of several aspects of spider behavior, one of which involved my experimental disproof of "Gerhardt's Rule" (J. S. Rovner, Science 152, 543 [1966]). My research time was increased by my receiving two NSF summer fellowships and a 1-year NASA fellowship.

An NSF postdoctoral fellowship enabled me to spend a year at Gutenberg University (Mainz, Germany). My research resulted in a paper showing that major aspects of spider reproductive behavior are independent of proprioceptive input (J. S. Rovner, Science 157, 835 [1967]), as well as a paper on linyphiid territorial behavior.

While in Germany, I was offered an Assistant Professorship at Ohio University, which I began in fall 1967. My primary teaching responsibilities were large introductory classes and a course in animal behavior. Being selected as a "University Professor" for 1974-75 and for 1980-81 encouraged me to develop two additional courses, which I offered yearly thereafter: Biology of Human Social Behavior and Biology of Spiders.

To support some of my research efforts at Ohio University, I was variously funded by the National Science Foundation, the National Geographic Society, and the Ohio University Baker Fund. In the summer of 1980, I was supported as a guest researcher by part of a DFG grant to Friedrich Barth (then at Goethe University, Frankfurt, Germany), which resulted in my fifth publication in the journal Science (Rovner and Barth, 1981). During my years as a member of our department's graduate faculty, I advised 10 M.S. students, two Ph.D. students, and one post-doctoral student. I terminated my research activity when I entered OHIO's Early Retirement Program in 1997.

During my years of research, I presented papers at meetings of the AAAS, the Animal Behavior Society, the American Arachnological Society, and the International Society of Arachnology. I was elected to serve as President of the American Arachnological Society for the two-year term of 1986-87. In 2001, I was awarded the title of Honorary Member by the International Society of Arachnology for a three-year tenure.

During 1987-90, I served the American Arachnological Society as Associate Editor of the Journal of Arachnology. Since 2001, I have served this society as the person responding to questions from people seeking information about arachnids at the society's website.

Representative Publications

Rovner, J. S. 1975. Sound production in Nearctic wolf spiders: a substratum-coupled stridulatory mechanism. Science 190: 1309-1310.

Rovner, J.S. 1975. Behavioral evidence for valvular regulation of hematodochal expansion in the spider's palp. Proceedings of the 6th International Arachnological Congress, 1974: 99-101.

Rovner, J. S. 1978. Adhesive hairs in spiders: behavioral functions and hydraulically mediated movement. Symposia of the Zoological Society of London No. 42: 99-108.

Rovner, J.S. and Barth, F. G. 1981. Vibratory communication through living plants by a tropical wandering spider. Science 214: 464-466.

Rovner, J. S. 1987. Nests of terrestrial spiders maintain a physical gill: flooding and the evolution of silk constructions. Journal of Arachnology 14: 327-337.