John Alcock

Emeritus Professor


John Alcock came to ASU from the University of Washington in 1972 and retired in 2008.  His research interests focus on the mating systems of insects especially those found in the Sonoran Desert.  He is especially interested in how males of creatures like tarantula hawk wasps, certain beetles and the digger bee find receptive females.  Now that he is retired he continues to study the mating behavior of insects on the family farm in northern Virginia.  He has also written a number of books, including a textbook on animal behavior that is now in its 10th edition after having first been published in 1975.


  • Ph.D. Biology, Harvard University  1965-69  
  • B.A. Biology, Amherst College 1960-65  

Research Interests

The evolution of insect mating behavior

The interactions between orchids and their pollinators

The evolution of adaptations 


  • Alcock, John,Crawford, C,Krebs, D. Evolutionary questions for evolutionary psychologists. Handbook of Evolutionary Psychology (2008).
  • Darrell Kemp, John Alcock. Aerial contests, sexual selection and flight morphology in solitary pompilid wasps. Ethology (2007).
  • John Alcock. Hilltopping behavior of two species of Astata (Hymenoptera, Crabronidae) in central Arizona. Southwestern Naturalist (2007).
  • D Kemp, John Alcock, G Allen. Sequential size assessment and multicomponent decision rules mediate aerial wasp contests. Animal Behaviour (2006).
  • John Alcock. Boulders and Treefrogs. Arizona Wildlife Views (2006).
  • John Alcock, D Kemp. The behavioral significance of male body size in the tarantula hawk wasp Hemipepsis ustulata (Hymenoptera: Pompilida). Ethology (2006).
  • John Alcock, D Kemp. The hilltopping mating system of Leschenaultia adusta (Loew) (Diptera: Tachinidae). Journal of Insect Behavior (2006).
  • John Alcock, L Simmons, M Beveridge. Does variation in female body size affect nesting success in Dawson's burrowing bee, Amegilla dawsoni (Apidae: Anthophorini). Ecological Entomology (2006).
  • M Beveridge, L Simmons, John Alcock. Genetic breeding system and investment patterns within nests of Dawson's burrowing bee (Amegilla dawsoni) (Hymenoptera: Anthophorini). Molecular Ecology (2006).
  • . . Review of: Headless Males Make Great Lovers & Other Unusual Natural Histories (2006).
  • Alcock, John (Author) . A textbook history of animal behaviour. Essays in Animal Behaviour (2006).
  • John Alcock, D Kemp. The scramble competition mating system of the sphecid wasp Palmodes praestans (Kohl). Journal of Natural History (2005).
  • John Alcock, L Simmons, M Beveridge. Seasonal change in offspring sex and size in Dawson's burrowing bees (Amegilla dawsoni) (Hymenoptera: Anthophorini). Ecological Entomology (2005).
  • Alcock, John. An Enthusiasm for Orchids. (2005).
  • Alcock, John. Animal Behavior, An Evolutionary Approach. (2005).
  • Sherman, Paul, Alcock, John. Exploring Animal Behavior. (2005).
  • . . Review of: Animal Social Complexity (2005).
  • . . Review of: Patterns of Behavior (2005).
  • Alcock, John. Sociobiology. Encylopedia of Animal Behavior (2004).
  • John Alcock, D Kemp. Long-term stability in the mating system of the bot fly Cuterebra austeni (Cuterebridae). Journal of Insect Behavior (2004).
  • . . Review of: Garden Insects of North America (2004).
  • . . Review of: Why Men Won't Ask for Directions (2004).
  • Alcock, John. Sociobiology. Encyclopedia of Population (2003).
  • D Kemp, John Alcock. Lifetime resource utilization, flight physiology, and the evolution of contest competition in territorial insects. American Naturalist (2003).
  • John Alcock. A textbook history of animal behaviour. Animal Behaviour (2003).
  • L Simmons, John Alcock. The role of cuticular hydrocarbons in male attraction and repulsion by female Dawson's burrowing bee, Amegilla dawsoni. Animal Behaviour (2003).
  • Alcock, John. Social evolution. The Encyclopedia of Evolution (2002).
  • . . Review of: Sense and Nonsense: Evolutionary Perspectives on Human Behaviour (2002).
  • . . Review of: Sperm Competition (2002).
  • J Tomkins, L Simmons, John Alcock. Brood provisioning strategies in Dawson's burrowing bee, Amegilla dawsoni (Hymenoptera: Anthophorini). Behavioral Ecology and Sociobiology (2001).
  • John Alcock. The natural history of a miltogrammine fly, Miltogramma rectangularis (Diptera: Sarcophagidae). Journal of the Kansas Entomological Society (2001).
  • Alcock, John. The Triumph of Sociobiology. (2001).
  • . . Review of: Dear Mr. Darwin (2001).
  • . . Review of: Promiscuity (2001).
  • . . Review of: The View from Bald Hill (2001).
  • John Alcock. Interactions between the sexually deceptive orchid Spiculaea ciliata and its wasp pollinator Thynnoturneria sp. (Hymenoptera: Thynninae). Journal of Natural History (2000).
  • John Alcock. Misbehavior: How Stephen Jay Gould is wrong about evolution. Boston Review (2000).
  • John Alcock. Possible causes of variation in territory tenure in a lekking pompilid wasp (Hemipepsis ustulata) (Hymenoptera). Journal of Insect Behavior (2000).
  • L Simmons, J Tomkins, John Alcock. Can minor males of Dawson's burrowing bee, Amegilla dawsoni (Hymenoptera: Anthophorini) compensate for reduced access to virgin females through sperm competition?. Behavioral Ecology (2000).
  • . . Review of: Assassin Bugs (2000).
  • . . Getting Over the Color Green: Contemporary Southwestern Environmental Literature (2000).
  • . . Monteverde: Ecology and Conservation of a Tropical Cloud Forest (2000).
  • Alcock, John. Hidden hoppers. Arizona Highways (0).

Research Activity

  • Alcock,John*. RESOURCE CONTROL AND REPRODUCTIVE SUCCESS. NSF(1/15/1988 - 6/30/1990).


  • Alcock, John. In Defense of the Adaptationist Programme. Mind. Culture, and Evolution Conference (Jul 2004).
  • Alcock, John. In Defense of the Adaptationist Programme. Ontario Ecology and Evolution Conference (May 2004).
  • Alcock, John. Natural history of tarantula hawk wasp.
  • Alcock, John. Interactions between desert plants and insects.
  • Alcock, John. Natural history of desert insects.


  • Behavioral and entomological journals, Article reviewer (2006 - 2006)
  • Arizona Native Plant Society, Cointributor to "The Plant Press" (2005)
  • Behavioral and entomological journals, Article reviewer (2004)