Harrington Wells
-B.A., Occidental College.
-Ph.D., University of California, Santa Barbara

Office: 330A Oliphant Hall
Phone: (918) 631-3071
Email: harrington-wells@utulsa.edu

Research Interests:
My research interests over the past twenty years have focused on population biology issues. Some of that work has dealt with questions of a population genetic nature (e.g. 1979, 1980, 1983), while other work has looked at population ecology questions (e.g. 1977, 1986, 1990, 1993, 1997). These studies include population ecology and population genetic model development (e.g. 1981, 1983, 1986, 1993, 1998). However, I am a firm believer that models, while a key component of scientific research, may often not represent nature. Therefore, many of my studies have been solely experimental tests of theoretical work (e.g. 1986, 1992, 1994, 1996, 1997, 1999). Although not intentionally directed towards applied problems, my current work has important applied components dealing with conservation biology, natural resource management, and agriculture (e.g. 1990, 1993, 1994, 1998, 1999). In all aspects of my research, I enjoy and have actively sought colleagues and students as collaborators. My current research focus is on the effect of competition, predation, and starvation on the evolution of foraging behavior in eusocial species using honeybees (Apis) as a model system. 

My colleagues and I are among a historically very long list of scholars interested in the nature of honeybee flower fidelity. Our work over the past twenty years has produced an unexpected picture of the behavioral ecology of honeybee foragers and by doing so opened new questions that may only be answerable through a comparative ecology approach involving different locally endemic Apis taxa. The main findings of our work have been: 1) describing a unique foraging behavior (e.g. 1981, 1983, 1997), 2) showing that honeybee foraging behavior is more complex than any single model predicts (e.g. 1984, 1986, 1992), and 3) demonstrating that significant differences in Apis foraging behavior involving with-in flower patch decisions exist both between Apis species and among A. mellifera subspecies (e.g. 1994, 1995, 1996, 1998, 1999). That work includes Apis taxa in India, Japan, Mexico, and Turkey. Only more detailed comparative work will be able to determine why those differences have evolved. Pakistan and Turkey are our current study sites. By developing a true understanding of honeybee flower choices we hope to be able to create a model that accurately predicts the flower fidelity of foragers. That should produce insight not only about the evolution of foraging behavior of species in general but also provide critical information about how the eusocial life history influences the behavior of foragers. We hope that such information about honeybees will also prove useful in agricultural settings, helping to develop better protocols for specific pollination tasks.

Teaching Fields:

  • Biol1003-Genetics and Human Diversity
  • Biol1033-The Environment and Humanity
  • Biol1504-Biology of Populations
  • Biol3123/6123-Advanced Genetics
  • Biol4063/6663-Population Genetics
  • Biol4093/6793-Population Ecology
  • Biol7103-Mathematical Biology
  • Biol7503-Ecological Genetics 

Selected Publications:

  • Ibrahim Cakmak, Peyton Cook, Jeremy Hollis, Naseem Shah, Deborah Huntley, David van Valkenburg and Harrington Wells,1999. Africanized honey bee response to differences in reward frequency. Journal of Apicultural Research, 38:125-136.
  • Prete, Fredrick, Harrington Wells & Patrick H Wells, 1999. How ancient, medieval and early modern writings shaped contemporary questions about mantid prey capture. In: The Praying Mantids: Research Perspectives. F.R. Prete, H. Wells, P.H Wells & L.E. Hurd (eds.) Johns Hopkins University Press, Baltimore, MD.
  • Çakmak, Ibrahim, Ç. Fïratlï and Harrington Wells, 1999. The response of Apis mellifera syriaca and A.m. armeniaca to nectar differences. Turkish Journal of Agriculture and Forestry 22:561-571.
  • Wells, Harrington, Eric G. Strauss, Michael A. Rutter and Patrick H. Wells, 1998. Mate location, population growth and species extinction. Biological Conservation 86:317-324.
  • Wells, Harrington, Ibrahim Cakmak, Peyton Cook and David van Valkenburg, 1998. Alternative Africanization models for Yucatan: continued discussion. Bee Word 79:101-106.
  • Wells, Harrington, Ibrahim Cakmak and David van Valkenburg, 1998. Alternative Africanization models for Yucatan. Bee Word 78:165-170.
  • Hill, Peggy Sue, Patrick H. Wells and Harrington Wells, 1997. Spontaneous flower constancy and learning in honey bees as a function of colour. Animal Behaviour 54:615-627.
  • Joost, Houston, Michael Amspoker, Brandi Silkey and Harrington Wells, 1996. Floral calcium oxalate crystals as foraging cues for honey bees. Journal of Apicultural Research 34:197-203.
  • Cakmak, Ibrahim and Harrington Wells 1996. Flower color, nectar reward, and flower fidelity of the Caucasus honey bee (Apis mellifera caucasia). Turkish Journal of Zoology 20:389-396.
  • Wells, Harrington and Takeshi Ohtani, 1996. Foraging behavior of the Japanese honeybee in an artificial condition. Nature and Human Activities (Japan) 1:45-50.
  • Rathore, Ram R.S. and Harrington Wells 1995. Training Asian rockbees (Apis dorsata) to forage at specific locations. Indian Bee Journal 57:8-9.
  • Lamb, Jeanette and Harrington Wells, 1995. Honey bee (Apis mellifera) use of flower form in making foraging choices. Journal of the Kansas Entomological Society 68:388-398.
  • Petrikin, Joshua and Harrington Wells, 1995. Honey bee (Apis mellifera) use of flower pigment pattern in making foraging choices. Journal of the Kansas Entomological Society 68:377-387.
  • Wells, Harrington and Ram R.S. Rathore, 1994. Discriminant conditioning of foragers in the Asian honey bees Apis cerana and Apis dorsata. Ecological Entomology 20:374-379.
  • Wells, Harrington and Ram R.S. Rathore, 1994. Foraging ecology of the Asian hive bee, Apis cerana indica, within flower patches. Journal of Apicultural Research 33:219-230.
  • Cakmak, Ibrahim and Harrington Wells, 1994. Honey bee forager individual constancy: Innate or learned. BeeScience 3:161-169. 

Research Students and Projects:

  • Ibrahim Cakmak: Foraging behavior of Apis cypria and A. syriaca.
  • Jeff Davis: Foraging behavior of African bees.
  • Jeremy Hollis: Handling time and foraging distance on honeybee foraging decisions.
  • Frank Nelson: Honeybee commitment to flower patches. 

Other Responsibilities:

  • Program Director - Oklahoma Project for Statewide Science Literacy - Summer Program for middle and high school teachers
  • Internship Coordinator for Biology
  • Phi Beta Kappa- Chair Nominating Committee