James Crall

Prof. James Crall

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Ph.D. Harvard University, 2017 (Organismic and Evolutionary Biology)

BA Swarthmore College, 2007 (Biology, Sociology and Anthropology)

We are interested in how organisms interact with each other and their abiotic environments, and how these interactions drive broader ecological processes and the delivery of ecosystem services in agriculture. Our research focuses primarily on bees and plant-pollinator interactions, with an applied interest in supporting pollinators and pollination in agroecosystems. To study the dynamics of these complex biological systems (from collective behavior to ecological networks), we also focus on developing low-cost, scalable techniques for experimental automation, data collection, and analysis.

Our current research interests include: (1) How do social traits (e.g., colony size, phenotypic composition, etc.) affect robustness to environmental stressors in bumblebees?  (2) How do environmental stressors interact (e.g., pesticide exposure and extreme temperatures), and what are the organismal-scale processes (e.g., physiology and behavior) underlying these interactions?  (3) How will elevated atmospheric CO2 alter the nutritional landscape for pollinators? and (4) How does fine-scale spatial (e.g., landscape composition) and temporal (i.e., phenology and weather) variation drive patterns of plant-pollinator interactions in agroecosystems?

Research Category: Organismal, basic and applied


Google Scholar Profile


Crall JD, Brokaw J, Gagliardi SF, Mendenhall CD, Pierce NE, Combes SA. (2020). Wind drives temporal variation in pollinator visitation in a fragmented tropical forest. Biology Letters.16: 20200103  pdf

Salzman S, Crook D, Crall JD, Hopkins R, Pierce NE, Dey B (in revision). An ancient obligate pollination mutualism in cycads.

Crall JD, de Bivort BL, Dey B, Ford Versypt A. (2019). Social buffering of pesticides in bumblebees: agent-based modeling of the effects of colony size and neonicotinoid exposure on nest behavior. Frontiers in Ecology and Evolution 7:51

Crall JD, Switzer CM, Oppenheimer RL, Ford Versypt A, Dey B, Brown B, Eyster M, Guérin C, Pierce NE, Combes SA, de Bivort BL (2018).  Neonicotinoid exposure disrupts bumblebee nest behavior, social networks, and thermoregulation. Science 362, 683–686 pdf 

NPR  Wired  AAAS  Perspectiv

Alisch T, Crall JD, Zucker D, de Bivort BL. (2018). MAPLE: A Modular Automated platform for Large-scale Experiments a low-cost robot for integrated animal-handling and phenotyping. eLife 2018;7:e37166.  pdf.

Crall, JD, Gravish N, Mountcastle AM, Kocher SD, Oppenheimer RL, Pierce NE, Combes SA (2018). Spatial fidelity of workers predicts collective response to disturbance in a social insect. Nature Communications. 9 (1201) 1-13. pdf 

WIRED.  Nature Video. Chemical and Engineering News.

Crall JD, Chang JJ, Oppenheimer RO, Combes SA (2017). Foraging in an unsteady world: Bumblebee flight performance in field-realistic turbulence. Interface Focus 7: 20160086. pdf
New Scientist

Chang JJ*, +, Crall JD*, Combes SA (2016). Wind alters landing dynamics in bumblebees. Journal of Experimental Biology 219: 2819-2822. *Authors contributed equally, +Undergraduate collaborator pdf

Crall JD*, Akandwanaho D*,+, Souffrant AD*,+, Hescock SD*,+, Callan SE, Coronado WM, Baldwin MW, de Bivort BL (2016). Social context modulates idiosyncrasy of behavior in the gregarious cockroach Blaberus discoidalis. Animal Behaviour 111: 297-305. *Authors contributed equally, +Undergraduate collaborators pdf

Crall JD, Mountcastle AM, Ravi S, Combes SA (2015). Bumblebee flight performance in cluttered environments: Effects of obstacle orientation, body size, and acceleration. Journal of Experimental Biology 218 (17): 2728-2737 pdf
Inside JEB.

Crall JD, Gravish N, Mountcastle AM, Combes SA. (2015). BEEtag: a low-cost, image-based tracking system for the study of animal behavior and locomotion. PLOS One 10(9): e0136487. pdf

Ravi S, Crall JD, McNeilly L, Gagliradi SF, Biewener AA, Combes SA (2015). Hummingbird flight stability and control in freestream turbulence. Journal of Experimental Biology 218 (9): 1444-1452 pdf

Ravi S, Crall JD, Fisher A, Combes SA, (2013). Rolling with the flow: Bumblebees flying in unsteady wakes. Journal of Experimental Biology 216: 4299-4309 pdf

Combes SA, Rundle D, Iwasaki J, Crall JD (2012). Linking biomechanics and ecology through predator-prey interactions: Flight performance of dragonflies and their prey. Journal of Experimental Biology. 215: 903-913 pdf

Donoughe, S*, Crall JD*, Combes SA, Merz RA (2011). Resilin in dragonfly and damselfly wings and its implications for wing flexibility. Journal of Morphology 272(12): 1409-1421 *Authors contributed equally pdf

Combes SA, Crall JD, Mukherjee S (2010). Dynamics of animal movement in an ecological context: Dragonfly wing damage reduces flight performance and predation success. Biology Letters 6(3): 426-429 pdf

Program Info

Please visit the Crall laboratory website for information about our research program: www.jamesdcrall.com