About Professor Stephen Simpson

Why locusts swarm? Integrative nutrition: from insect-plant relationships to human obesity


My aim is to explain how the behaviour and physiology of individual organisms influence the populations, communities and ecosystems within which they exist, and how these features in turn respond and adapt to changing environmental conditions. I am working towards testing and implementing a unifying theoretical and experimental paradigm with an emphasis on nutritional interactions among organisms. The project involves a uniquely broad, yet tightly integrated range of experimental techniques and biological systems. As well as providing a paradigm shift in biology, the research program will help solve practical problems facing Australia and the world, including managing locust outbreaks, understanding obesity and ageing, conserving endangered species and their habitats, and optimizing animal production systems.

Selected publications

  • Simpson SJ, Raubenheimer D. 2012. The nature of nutrition: A unifying framework from animal adaptation to human obesity. Princeton: Princeton University Press (forthcoming 2012).
  • Anstey ML, Rogers SM, Ott SR, Burrows M, Simpson SJ. 2009. Serotonin mediates behavioral gregarization underlying swarm formation in desert locusts. Science 323:627-630.
  • Lee KP, Simpson SJ, Clissold FJ, Brooks RC, Ballard JWO, Taylor PW, Soran N, Raubenheimer D. 2008. Lifespan and reproduction in Drosophila: new insights from nutritional geometry. PNAS 105:2498-2503.
  • Warbrick-Smith J, Behmer ST, Lee KP, Raubenheimer D, Simpson SJ. 2006. Evolving resistance to obesity in an insect. PNAS 103:14045-14049.
  • Simpson SJ, Sword GA, Lorch P, Couzin ID. 2006. Cannibal crickets on the march for protein and salt. PNAS 103:4152-4156.
  • Buhl J, Sumpter DJT, Couzin ID, Hale JJ, Despland E, Miller E, Simpson SJ. 2006. From disorder to order in marching locusts. Science 213:1402-1406.
  • Mayntz D, Raubenheimer D, Salomon M, Toft S, Simpson SJ. 2005. Nutrient-specific foraging in invertebrate predators. Science 307:111-113.
  • Wilson K, Thomas MB, Blanford S, Doggett M, Simpson SJ, Moore SL. 2002. Coping with crowds: density-dependent disease resistance in desert locusts. PNAS 99:5471-5475.
  • Simpson SJ, Despland E, Hägele BF, Dodgson T. 2001. Gregarious behaviour in desert locusts is evoked by touching their back legs. PNAS 98:3895-3897.
  • Simpson SJ, Raubenheimer D. 1993. A multi-level analysis of feeding behaviour: the geometry of nutritional decisions. Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B 342:381-402.