School of Natural Sciences


Bio Image Randy Hunt

Randy Hunt

Professor of Biology
Phone: (812) 941-2380
Office Location: LF 322

Academic Background

Postdoctoral Fellow:
University of Kentucky
The Ohio State University
Degree: Doctorate
Kent State University
Degree: Master of Science
Kent State University
Degree: Bachelor of Science


How biologists determine what is or is not a distinct species is one of the more difficult problems in biology. This is especially true of cryptic species that are physically similar and differ only in the signals they use for mating behavior. Our research focuses on determining the possible existence of cryptic species in the leafhopper genus Erythroneura. There are 54 recognized species within this group of insects based on physical appearance. Most species live on redbud trees (Cercis canadensis) or grape plants (Vitis riparia). One species, Erythroneura comes, is an important pest of cultivated grapes and a few species are known to damage redbud. No studies have examined the mating behavior of any species in this genus. Our preliminary analysis of vibrational mating signals emitted by individuals from several populations in Indiana and Kentucky suggests that many unrecognized species may exist. Undergraduate students are involved in measuring variation in male mating signals and conducting mating experiments aimed at detecting and verifying the existence of these cryptic species.

Professional Interests

  • Introduction to Biological Sciences, L102
  • Entomology, Z373, Z383
  • Evolution, L318
  • Insects and Humans Affairs, Honors 306
  • Animal Behavior, Z460


Journal Articles
Crocroft, RB, R Rodriguez, and RE Hunt. "Host shifts and signal divergence: mating signals covary with host use in a complex of specialized plant-feeding insects" Biological Journal of the Linnean Society 99. (2010). 60-72.
Joyce, AL, J. Bernal, V Vinson, RE Hunt A and S Fritz and R Midina. "Geographic variation in male courtship acoustics and genetic divergence of populations of the Cotesia flavipes species complex" Entomologia Experimentalis et Applicata 137. (20110). 153-164.
Joyce, AL, RE Hunt, JS Bernal and SB Vinson. "Substrate influences mating success and transmission of courtship vibrations for the parasitoid Cotesia marginiventris" Entomologia Experimentalis et Applicata 127. (2008). 39-47.
Hunt, RE and TL Morton. "Regulation of chorusing in the vibrational communication system of the leafhopper Graminella nigrifrons" American Zoologist 41. (2001). 1222-1228.
RB Cocroft, R Rodriguez and RE Hunt. Host shifts, the evolution of communication, and speciation in the Enchenopa binotata species complex of treehoppers. In: K.J. Tilmon ed., Specialization, Speciation, and Radiation--The Evolutionary Biology of Herbivorous Insects. University of California Press, 2008