Ken Cramer

Professor, Biology

Rm 243 Center for Science & Business 309-457-2394


I chose ecology as my focus because I loved spending time in natural habitats and wilderness areas experiencing the lives of animals. Naturally, that led to an interest in environmental science and protecting our natural resources. Once I entered graduate school and began teaching labs, I knew I wanted to pursue a teaching career.

Monmouth is special because it allows me share my excitement and enthusiasm for the diversity of life on earth with students in a way that can transform their lives. It allows me to explore environmental issues from multiple disciplinary perspectives, which is essential to solving real-world problems.

It also enables me to pursue a wide variety of interests beyond biology and ecology. For instance, the Integrated Studies program gives me opportunities to branch out and teach in others areas of interest, such as the intersection between science, philosophy and religion.

I have also been able to take students on travel programs to experience wilderness ecosystems in the boundary waters of northern Minnesota, the Grand Canyon and deserts of the Southwest, the rainforests of Panama, and the Galapagos islands. I also am the on-campus adviser for off-campus programs in Costa Rica, Tanzania, and Brazil, where students can study a variety of topics in biology for a full semester.


Animal ecology, diversity, and behavior.

Diversity of spiders of virgin and restored prairies.

Distribution and natural history of venomous brown recluse spiders.


B.S. – University of Missouri, 1979

M.S. – University of Oklahoma, 1983

Ph.D. – Utah State University, 1988

Courses Taught


Environmental Science

Conservation Biology

Animal Behavior

Beyond Belief:  Science, Religion, & Meaning

Selected Work

Cramer, K. L. and E. T. Hileman. 2018. Survival, abundance, and movement of a synanthropic population of the brown recluse spider, (Loxosceles reclusa: Araneae, Sicariidae). Journal of Arachnology 46(3):420-427.

Cramer, K. L. and L. M. Zagar. 2016. High temperature tolerance of the brown recluse spider (Araneae, Sicariidae): potential for pest control. Journal of Economic Entomology 109:284-287.

Cramer, K. L. 2015. Activity patterns of a synanthropic population of the brown recluse spider, Loxosceles reclusa (Araneae, Sicariidae) with observations on feeding and mating. Journal of Arachnology 43(1):67-71.

Cramer, K. L. and R. S. Vetter. 2014. Distribution of the brown recluse spider (Araneae: Sicariidae) in Illinois and Iowa. Journal of Medical Entomology 51(1):46-49.

Cramer, K. L. 2008. Are brown recluse spiders (Loxosceles reclusa) scavengers? The influence of predator satiation, prey size and prey quality. Journal of Arachnology 36(1):140-144.

Cramer, K. L. and A. Maywright. 2008. Cold temperature tolerance and distribution of the brown recluse spider Loxosceles reclusa (Araneae, Sicariidae) in Illinois. Journal of Arachnology 36(1):136-139.

Cramer, K. L. 2003. The influence of precipitation change on spiders as top predators in the detrital community. Chapter 20 in North American Temperate Deciduous Forest Responses to Changing Precipitation Regimes, Ecological Studies vol. 166, ed. P. J. Hanson and S. D. Wullschleger. Springer, New York, NY, 472 pp.

“… all subjects do not reside in neat little compartments, but are continuous and inseparable from the one big subject we have been put on Earth to study, which is life itself.”

Kurt Vonnegut