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Louie H. Yang

Associate Professor

(530) 754-3261



University of California, Davis

Associate Professor, 2015 to present

Assistant Professor, 2009-2015

University of California, Santa Barbara

President's Postdoctoral Fellow, 2006-2008

University of California, Davis

Population Biology, Ph.D., Merton Love Award, 2006

Cornell University

Biology and College Scholar, B.A., magna cum laude, 1999

Personal History

I was born in Brisbane, Australia on June 2, 1977. My family moved to California when I was 2 years old, and then to West Virginia a year later. I grew up in Morgantown, West Virginia, where I learned a special fondness for the Appalachian mountains. I went to college thinking that I wanted to study veterinary medicine, then later decided that I actually wanted to study film and biology in order to make nature documentaries. As it turns out, I was much more interested in ecology and evolution, and learned as much as I could. I graduated in 1999, and spent the next year working as a field assistant studying birds and traveling in central New York, Venezuela, Australia, South Africa, China and Mongolia. In August of 2000, I began my Ph.D. in Population Biology at the University of California, Davis. My dissertation investigated the effects of 17-year periodical cicadas (Magicicada spp.) as resource pulses. I began a Presidential Postdoctoral Fellowship at the University of California in Santa Barbara in 2006, and then returned to the University of California, Davis as an Assistant Professor in 2009. I am currently investigating how resource pulses, disturbance events and the timing of species interactions affect ecological communities.

Favorite Quotes

"When we try to pick out anything by itself, we find it hitched to everything else in the Universe." John Muir

"Trees and stones will teach you that which you can never learn from masters." St. Benard of Clairvaux

"A desk is a dangerous place from which to watch the world." John le Carré

"Theories have four stages of acceptance: i) this is worthless nonsense; ii) this is an interesting, but perverse, point of view, iii) this is true, but quite unimportant; iv) I always said so." J.B.S. Haldane

"The greatest obstacle to discovery is not ignorance - it is the illusion of knowledge." Daniel J. Boorstin

"A person can always find a career in a calling, but it is far more difficult later in life to find a calling in a career." David W. Orr

"I have a commonplace book for facts, and another for poetry, but I find it difficult to preserve the vague distinction which I had in mind, for the most interesting and beautiful facts are so much more poetry and that is their success. They are translated from earth to heaven. I see that if my facts were sufficiently vital and significant - perhaps transmuted into the the substance of the human mind - I should need but one book of poetry to contain them all." Henry David Thoreau

"In the beginner's mind there are many possibilities, in the expert's mind there are few." Shunryu Suzuki

"Dare to be naïve." Buckminster Fuller

"I love fools' experiments. I am always making them." Charles Darwin

"A chief event of life is the day in which we have encountered a mind that startled us." Ralph Waldo Emerson

"Adopt the pace of nature: her secret is patience." Ralph Waldo Emerson

"Finish every day and be done with it. You have done what you could. Some blunders and absurdities no doubt have crept in; forget them as soon as you can. Tomorrow is a new day; begin it well and serenely and with too high a spirit to be cumbered with your old nonsense. This day is all that is good and fair. It is too dear, with its hopes and invitations, to waste a moment on yesterdays." Ralph Waldo Emerson

"Trust thyself." Ralph Waldo Emerson

"Jump, and you will find out how to unfold your wings as you fall." Ray Bradbury

"To understand the heart and mind of a person, look not at what he has already achieved, but at what he aspires to do." Kahlil Gibran

"1. Find a subject you care about. 2. Do not ramble, though. 3. Keep it simple. 4. Have the guts to cut. 5. Sound like yourself. 6. Say what you mean to say. 7. Pity the readers. " Kurt Vonnegut, Jr.

"If we knew what we were doing, it wouldn't be called research." Albert Einstein



I am working to develop a temporally explicit view of ecology that examines how ecological communities combine complex, coordinated and changing interactions over time. I am particularly interested in community responses to strong perturbation events, the phenology of seasonal community assembly, stage-structured species interactions, and the effects of climate change on the timing of species interactions.

Here are a few current projects:

1) What are the consequences of shifts in the relative timing of species interactions in the milkweed-arthropod community?

milkweed and monarchs

A fundamental goal of community ecology is to understand the consequences of species interactions. However, the consequences of species interactions can change dramatically in time due to seasonal changes in the community (phenology) and in the developmental stages of interacting organisms (ontogeny). Understanding how species interactions change over time due to phenology and ontogeny is a key challenge for understanding how real-world communities function.

In many ways, the reality of climate change has made understanding coordinated temporal dynamics in species interactions more urgent. On a global scale, climate change is causing most seasonal life-history events to occur earlier than they have in the historical past. However, while most populations are advancing their phenologies to varying degrees, some show little phenological change, and others show delayed phenologies. As a result, climate change is altering the relative timing of species interactions in many communities. I’m interested in understanding the causes and consequences of these changes. I believe that addressing the complex consequences of climate change will require a deeper understanding of the temporal dimension in community dynamics. A temporally explicit view of ecology aims to understand how species interactions are coordinated in time, and the implications of disrupting this coordination.

In this project, I am attempting to apply a general, conceptual framework (the “phenology-ontogeny landscape”) to the timing of interactions between milkweeds and monarch caterpillars.

2) How do pulsed subsidies of seaweed affect island communities?

pulsed subsidy project

Understanding how spatial and temporal variation in resource availability affects ecological communities is a central goal for ecology. Resource pulses, defined as ephemeral periods of increased resource availability, provide unique opportunities to explore how resources influence community structure and dynamics. This project aims to investigate how community responses to resource pulses are affected by resource-pulse frequency and magnitude, the ability (or inability) of consumers to aggregate in areas with pulsed resources, the indirect effects of consumers on alternative prey, and the aboveground and belowground pathways of key interactions through ecosystems.

This project uses two experimental studies in a Bahamian island ecosystem designed to investigate how terrestrial communities respond to pulsed subsidies of seaweed deposited on shorelines and small islands.

Other projects

In addition to these two projects, I am also conducting several side projects that explore the tremendous diversity of species interactions in community ecology. These projects include: 1) a study of the effects of virus infection on the predation is behavior of an omnivorous insect, 2) experiments investigating apparent competition and apparent mutualism in carnivorous plants, 3) an undergraduate-led group research project examining the priority effects caused by the early-season appearance of predators in oak-arthropod communities with galls, 4) a handful of experimental studies looking at the effects of short-term weather events on plant and insect growth, 5) a study investigating how isotopic measures of trophic position vary over ontogeny in predaceous insects, 6) a massive globally coordinated research project investigating multiple drivers of grassland productivity and diversity, and 7) a study investigating the natal habitat of overwintering monarch butterflies using a continental-scale isotopic map of stable hydrogen in precipitation.



Farzan, S., J. Whitney, and L. Yang. in press. The Phenology and Spatial Distribution of Cavity-Nesting Hymenoptera and Their Parasitoids in a California Oak-Chaparral Landscape Mosaic. American Midland Naturalist.

Yang, L. H., D. Ostrovsky, M. C. Rogers, and J. M. Welker. 2016. Intra-population variation in the natal origins and wing morphology of overwintering western monarch butterflies Danaus plexippus. Ecography 39:998–1007.pdf

Wetzel, W. C., R. M. Screen, I. Li, J. McKenzie, K. A. Phillips, M. Cruz, W. Zhang, A. Greene, E. Lee, N. Singh, C. Tran, and L. H. Yang. 2016. Ecosystem engineering by a gall-forming wasp indirectly suppresses diversity and density of herbivores on oak trees. Ecology 97:427–438. pdf

Tredennick, A. T., P. B. Adler, J. B. Grace, W. S. Harpole, E. T. Borer, E. W. Seabloom, T. M. Anderson, J. D. Bakker, L. A. Biederman, C. S. Brown, Y. M. Buckley, C. Chu, S. L. Collins, M. J. Crawley, P. A. Fay, J. Firn, D. S. Gruner, N. Hagenah, Y. Hautier, A. Hector, H. Hillebrand, K. Kirkman, J. M. H. Knops, R. Laungani, E. M. Lind, A. S. MacDougall, R. L. McCulley, C. E. Mitchell, J. L. Moore, J. W. Morgan, J. L. Orrock, P. L. Peri, S. M. Prober, A. C. Risch, M. Schütz, K. L. Speziale, R. J. Standish, L. L. Sullivan, G. M. Wardle, R. J. Williams, and L. H. Yang. 2016. Comment on “Worldwide evidence of a unimodal relationship between productivity and plant species richness.” Science 351:457–457. pdf

Fay, P. A., S. M. Prober, W. S. Harpole, J. M. H. Knops, J. D. Bakker, E. T. Borer, E. M. Lind, A. S. MacDougall, E. W. Seabloom, P. D. Wragg, P. B. Adler, D. M. Blumenthal, Y. M. Buckley, C. Chu, E. E. Cleland, S. L. Collins, K. F. Davies, G. Du, X. Feng, J. Firn, D. S. Gruner, N. Hagenah, Y. Hautier, R. W. Heckman, V. L. Jin, K. P. Kirkman, J. Klein, L. M. Ladwig, Q. Li, R. L. McCulley, B. A. Melbourne, C. E. Mitchell, J. L. Moore, J. W. Morgan, A. C. Risch, M. Schütz, C. J. Stevens, D. A. Wedin, and L. H. Yang. 2015. Grassland productivity limited by multiple nutrients. Nature Plants 1:15080. pdf

Orrock, J. L., E. T. Borer, L. A. Brudvig, J. Firn, A. S. MacDougall, B. A. Melbourne, L. H. Yang, D. V. Baker, A. Bar-Massada, M. J. Crawley, E. I. Damschen, K. F. Davies, D. S. Gruner, A. D. Kay, E. Lind, R. L. McCulley, and E. W. Seabloom. 2015. A continent-wide study reveals clear relationships between regional abiotic conditions and post-dispersal seed predation. Journal of Biogeography 42:662–670. pdf

Yang, L.H. and C. Gratton. 2014. Insects as drivers of ecosystem processes. Current Opinion in Insect Science 2:26–32. pdf

Stafford-Banks, C., L.H. Yang, M. McMunn, D. Ullman, D. 2014. Virus infection alters the predatory behavior of an omnivorous vector. Oikos 123:1384–1390. pdf

Borer, E. T., E. W. Seabloom, D. S. Gruner, W. S. Harpole, H. Hillebrand, E. M. Lind, P. B. Adler, J. Alberti, T. M. Anderson, J. D. Bakker, L. Biederman, D. Blumenthal, C. S. Brown, L. A. Brudvig, Y. M. Buckley, M. Cadotte, C. Chu, E. E. Cleland, M. J. Crawley, P. Daleo, E. I. Damschen, K. F. Davies, N. M. DeCrappeo, G. Du, J. Firn, Y. Hautier, R. W. Heckman, A. Hector, J. HilleRisLambers, O. Iribarne, J. A. Klein, J. M. H. Knops, K. J. La Pierre, A. D. B. Leakey, W. Li, A. S. MacDougall, R. L. McCulley, B. A. Melbourne, C. E. Mitchell, J. L. Moore, B. Mortensen, L. R. O’Halloran, J. L. Orrock, J. Pascual, S. M. Prober, D. A. Pyke, A. C. Risch, M. Schuetz, M. D. Smith, C. J. Stevens, L. L. Sullivan, R. J. Williams, P. D. Wragg, J. P. Wright, and L. H. Yang. 2014. Herbivores and nutrients control grassland plant diversity via light limitation. Nature 508:517–520. pdf

Karban, R., Yang, L. and Edwards, K. 2014. Volatile communication between plants that affects herbivory: a meta-analysis. Ecology Letters. 17:44–52. pdf

Seabloom, E. W., E. T. Borer, Y. Buckley, E. E. Cleland, K. Davies, J. Firn, W. S. Harpole, Y. Hautier, E. Lind, A. MacDougall, J. L. Orrock, S. M. Prober, P. Adler, J. Alberti, T. Michael Anderson, J. D. Bakker, L. A. Biederman, D. Blumenthal, C. S. Brown, L. A. Brudvig, M. Caldeira, C. Chu, M. J. Crawley, P. Daleo, E. I. Damschen, C. M. D’Antonio, N. M. DeCrappeo, C. R. Dickman, G. Du, P. A. Fay, P. Frater, D. S. Gruner, N. Hagenah, A. Hector, A. Helm, H. Hillebrand, K. S. Hofmockel, H. C. Humphries, O. Iribarne, V. L. Jin, A. Kay, K. P. Kirkman, J. A. Klein, J. M. H. Knops, K. J. La Pierre, L. M. Ladwig, J. G. Lambrinos, A. D. B. Leakey, Q. Li, W. Li, R. McCulley, B. Melbourne, C. E. Mitchell, J. L. Moore, J. Morgan, B. Mortensen, L. R. O’Halloran, M. Pärtel, J. Pascual, D. A. Pyke, A. C. Risch, R. Salguero-Gómez, M. Sankaran, M. Schuetz, A. Simonsen, M. Smith, C. Stevens, L. Sullivan, G. M. Wardle, E. M. Wolkovich, P. D. Wragg, J. Wright, and L. Yang. 2013. Predicting invasion in grassland ecosystems: is exotic dominance the real embarrassment of richness? Global Change Biology. Early Online. pdf

Wright, A. N., J. Piovia-Scott, D. A. Spiller, G. Takimoto, L. H. Yang, and T. W. Schoener. 2013. Pulses of marine subsidies amplify reproductive potential of lizards by increasing individual growth rate. Oikos. 122:1496–1504. pdf

Piovia-Scott, J., D. A. Spiller, G. Takimoto, L. H. Yang, A. N. Wright, and T. W. Schoener. 2013. The effect of chronic seaweed subsidies on herbivory: plant-mediated fertilization pathway overshadows lizard-mediated predator pathways. Oecologia 172:1129–1135. pdf

Yang, L. 2012. Resource pulses of dead periodical cicadas increase the growth of American bellflower rosettes under competitive and non-competitive conditions. Arthropod-Plant Interactions 7(1):93-98. pdf

Stamps, J. A., L. H. Yang, V. M. Morales, and K. L. Boundy-Mills. 2012. Drosophila Regulate Yeast Density and Increase Yeast Community Similarity in a Natural Substrate. PLoS ONE 7:e42238.pdf

Yang, L. H. 2012. Insect Ecology: Behavior, Populations and Communities. (book review) Quarterly Review of Biology 87:166.

Pearse, I. S., L. M. Porensky, L. H. Yang, M. L. Stanton, R. Karban, L. Bhattacharyya, R. Cox, K. Dove, A. Higgins, C. Kamoroff, T. Kirk, C. Knight, R. Koch, C. Parker, H. Rollins, and K. Tanner. 2012. Complex Consequences of Herbivory and Interplant Cues in Three Annual Plants. PLoS ONE 7:e38105. pdf

Grace, J. B., P. B. Adler, E. W. Seabloom, E. T. Borer, H. Hillebrand, Y. Hautier, A. Hector, W. S. Harpole, L. R. O’Halloran, T. M. Anderson, J. D. Bakker, C. S. Brown, Y. M. Buckley, S. L. Collins, K. L. Cottingham, M. J. Crawley, E. I. Damschen, K. F. Davies, N. M. DeCrappeo, P. A. Fay, J. Firn, D. S. Gruner, N. Hagenah, V. L. Jin, K. P. Kirkman, J. M. H. Knops, K. J. La Pierre, J. G. Lambrinos, B. A. Melbourne, C. E. Mitchell, J. L. Moore, J. W. Morgan, J. L. Orrock, S. M. Prober, C. J. Stevens, P. D. Wragg, and L. H. Yang. 2012. Response to Comments on “Productivity Is a Poor Predictor of Plant Species Richness”. Science 335:1441–1441. pdf

Yang, L. 2012. The ecological consequences of insect outbreaks. in P. Barbosa, D. Letourneau, and A. Agrawal, editors. Insect Outbreaks Revisited, 1st edition. Wiley-Blackwell.

Tomich, T. P., S. Brodt, H. Ferris, R. Galt, W. R. Horwath, E. Kebreab, J. H. J. Leveau, D. Liptzin, M. Lubell, P. Merel, R. Michelmore, T. Rosenstock, K. Scow, J. Six, N. Williams, and L. Yang. 2011. Agroecology: A Review from a Global-Change Perspective. Annual Review of Environment and Resources 36:193-222. pdf

Adler, P. B., E. W. Seabloom, E. T. Borer, H. Hillebrand, Y. Hautier, A. Hector, W. S. Harpole, L. R. O’Halloran, J. B. Grace, T. M. Anderson, J. D. Bakker, L. A. Biederman, C. S. Brown, Y. M. Buckley, L. B. Calabrese, C.-J. Chu, E. E. Cleland, S. L. Collins, K. L. Cottingham, M. J. Crawley, E. I. Damschen, K. F. Davies, N. M. DeCrappeo, P. A. Fay, J. Firn, P. Frater, E. I. Gasarch, D. S. Gruner, N. Hagenah, J. Hille Ris Lambers, H. Humphries, V. L. Jin, A. D. Kay, K. P. Kirkman, J. A. Klein, J. M. H. Knops, K. J. La Pierre, J. G. Lambrinos, W. Li, A. S. MacDougall, R. L. McCulley, B. A. Melbourne, C. E. Mitchell, J. L. Moore, J. W. Morgan, B. Mortensen, J. L. Orrock, S. M. Prober, D. A. Pyke, A. C. Risch, M. Schuetz, M. D. Smith, C. J. Stevens, L. L. Sullivan, G. Wang, P. D. Wragg, J. P. Wright, and L. H. Yang. 2011. Productivity Is a Poor Predictor of Plant Species Richness. Science 333: 1750-1753. pdf

Mulder, C., H. Jones, K. Kameda, C. Palmborg, S. Schmidt, J. Ellis, J. Orrock, D. Wait, D. Wardle, L. Yang, H. Young, D. A. Croll, and E. Vidal. 2011 Impacts of Seabirds on Plant and Soil Properties. in Seabird Islands: Ecology, Invasion and Restoration. Oxford University Press.

Sih, A., J. Stamps, L. H. Yang, R. McElreath, and M. Ramenofsky. 2010. Behavior as a Key Component of Integrative Biology in a Human-altered World. Integrative and Comparative Biology 50:934 -944. pdf

Spiller, D.A., J. Piovia-Scott, A.N. Wright, L.H. Yang, G. Takimoto, T.W. Schoener and T. Iwata. 2010. Marine subsidies have multiple effects on coastal food webs, Ecology. 91(5):1424-1434 pdf

Yang, L.H., K. Edwards, J.E. Brynes, J.L. Bastow, A.N. Wright, K.O. Spence. 2010. A meta-analysis of resource pulse-consumer interactions, Ecological Monographs. 80(1):125-151. pdf

Yang, L.H. and V. Rudolf. 2010. Phenology, ontogeny and the effects of climate change on the timing of species interactions, Ecology Letters 13(1):1-10. pdf

Yang, L.H. and R. Karban. 2009. Root herbivory and habitat selection: explaining the relationship between periodical cicada density and tree growth, The American Naturalist 173(1):105-112. pdf

Yang, L.H. 2008. Pulses of dead periodical cicadas increase herbivory of American bellflowers, Ecology. 89(6): 1497-1502 pdf

Yang, L.H., J.L. Bastow, K.O.Spence, A.N. Wright. 2008. What can we learn from resource pulses?, Ecology. 89(3):621-634 pdf

Nowlin, W.H., Vanni M.J., and L.H. Yang. 2008. Comparing resource pulses in aquatic and terrestrial ecosystems, Ecology. 89(3):647-659 pdf

Yang, L.H. and S. Naeem. 2008. The ecology of resource pulses, Ecology. 89(3):619-620 pdf

Robinson, G.R., Jr., P.L. Sibrell, C.J. Boughton, and L.H. Yang. 2007. Influence of soil chemistry on metal and bioessential element concentrations in nymphal and adult periodical cicadas (Magicicada spp.). Science of the Total Environment. 374:367-378 pdf

Yang, L.H. 2006. Periodical cicadas use light for oviposition site selection. Proceedings of the Royal Society of London Series B - Biological Sciences. 273:2993-3000 pdf

Yang, L.H. 2006. Interactions between a detrital resource pulse and a detritivore community. Oecologia. 147:522-532 pdf

Yang, L.H. 2006. Cicada (invited article). Encyclopedia of Science and Technology. McGraw-Hill, New York.

Yang, L.H. and M.D. Holland. 2005. Small world properties emerge in highly compartmentalized networks with intermediate group sizes and numbers. Physical Review E. 72:067101 pdf

Yang, L.H. 2004. Periodical cicadas as resource pulses in North American forests. Science 306:1565-1567 pdf press

Bolnick, D.I., R. Svanback, J.A. Fordyce, L.H. Yang, J.M. Davis, C.D. Hulsey, and M.L. Forister. 2003. The ecology of individuals: incidence and implications of individual specialization. The American Naturalist 161(1):1-28 (2005 Mercer Award) pdf

Bolnick, D.I., L.H. Yang, J.A. Fordyce, J. Davis, and R. Svanback. 2002. Measuring individual-level diet specialization. Ecology 83(10):2936-2941 pdf

Bell, A..M., J.M. Davis, C.M. Greene, S.C. Lema, J.V. Watters, and L.H. Yang. 2001. Evolutionary questions in a ecologically relevant context (book review) Evolution 55(8):1715-1716 pdf

Yang, L.H. 2000. Effects of body size and plant structure on the movement ability of a predaceous stinkbug, Podisus maculiventris (Heteroptera: Pentatomidae). Oecologia 125:85-90 pdf

... more to come.



Experimental Ecology and Evolution in the Field (EVE and ENT 180A and 180B)

This course teaches the process of science through direct experience with field ecology research. During this course, students design and execute an ambitious group research project from start to finish over 20 weeks. This includes formulating an original research question, developing an experimental design, collecting data, statistical analysis, and communicating the results in the form of a scientific paper. Check out our blog.

Insect Ecology (ENT 105)

This is an undergraduate course for students interested in the ecology of insects. This course covers fundamental questions in ecology, with an emphasis on ideas, hypotheses, and insights related to the ecology of insects. I hope that this course will provide a firm foundation in both basic ecological concepts and the remarkable biology of insects. The core objective of this course is to teach the process of insect ecology, including the skills required to: a) observe nature in the context of existing knowledge and ideas, b) read and understand scientific figures and writing, c) ask and investigate questions in insect ecology, and d) effectively and concisely communicate scientific ideas with others.

Nicholas Rasmussen

University of California, Davis


The primary focus of my research is to determine how the timing of phenological events affects the structure and functioning of ecological communities. Anthropogenic climate change is altering the timing of phenological events worldwide, and these phenological shifts could alter the outcome of species interactions by changing when and at what life-stage species encounter one another. Phenological shifts, through their effects on species interactions, could influence properties at the community level (e.g., abundances, richness) and ecosystem level (primary productivity, nutrient cycling). Currently, I am studying how phenological shifts affect interactions between milkweeds and their associated arthropod communities, but over the years, I have worked with systems spanning a diversity of taxonomic groups, interaction types, and habitats. By combining knowledge from different systems, my goal is to develop a general predictive framework to determine the future consequences of climate change for the dynamics of communities.


Rasmussen, N. L., and V. H. W. Rudolf. In review. Individual and combined effects of two types of phenological shifts on predator-prey interactions.

Rasmussen, N. L. and V. H. W. Rudolf. 2015. Phenological synchronization drives demographic rates of populations. Ecology 96(7):1754-1760.

Rasmussen, N. L., B. G. Van Allen, and V. H. W. Rudolf. (2014) Linking phenological shifts to species interactions through size-mediated priority effects. Journal of Animal Ecology 83(5): 1206-1215.

Rudolf, V. H. W., N. L. Rasmussen, C. J. Dibble, and B. G. Van Allen. (2014) Resolving the roles of body size and species identity in driving functional diversity. Proceedings of the Royal Society B 281: 20133203.

Rudolf, V. H. W., and N. L. Rasmussen. (2013) Population structure determines functional differences among species and ecosystem processes. Nature Communications 4:2318.

Rudolf, V. H. W., and N. L. Rasmussen. (2013) Ontogenetic functional diversity: Size-structure of a keystone predator drives functioning of a complex ecosystem. Ecology 94(5):1046-1056.

Chamberlain, S. A., S. M. Hovick, C. J. Dibble, N. L. Rasmussen, B. G. Van Allen, B. S. Maitner, J. R. Ahern, L. P. Bell-Dereske, C. L. Roy, M. Meza-Lopez, J. Carrillo, E. Siemann, M. J. Lajeunesse, and K. D. Whitney. (2012) Does phylogeny matter? Assessing the impact of phylogenetic information in ecological meta-analysis. Ecology Letters 15(6):627-636.

Rasmussen, N. L., and R. W. Thorington, Jr. (2008) Morphological differentiation among three species of flying squirrels (genus Hylopetes) from Southeast Asia. Journal of Mammalogy 89(5):1296-1305.

Meredith Cenzer

University of California, Davis

Entomology, Ph.D., expected 2016

I work on changing patterns of local host adaptation in soapberry bugs (Jadera haematoloma) in Florida. This bug demonstrated remarkable, rapid adaptation to an invasive host plant in Florida in the second half of the 20th century. Morphology, cross-rearing experiments, and development time all indicated that populations that had colonized the invasive host (golden rain tree, Koelreuteria elegans) had adapted to that plant, while populations on the native host (balloon vine, Cardiospermum corindum) remained specialized on that species. My work provides evidence that these populations are no longer locally adapted, but that soapberry bugs across the state of Florida now specialize exclusively on the invasive golden rain tree. I have quantified the fitness effects of two primary plant defenses, the seed coat and the seedpod, and the proximate effects of the seedpod on natural selection on adult morphology. During these experiments, I discovered that phenotypic plasticity in response to natal host plant acts counter to natural selection on feeding morphology. I have also worked on the role of facilitation in mediating juvenile survival in this system. I am broadly interested in questions about local adaptation, plant-insect interactions, gene flow-selection balance, despeciation, maladaptation, and behavioral mechanisms of divergence.

Shahla Farzan

University of California, Davis

Graduate Group in Ecology, Ph.D., expected 2016

My dissertation research focuses on the ecology, behavior, and management of a native solitary bee species, the blue orchard bee (Osmia lignaria). Specifically, my research interests revolve around three central questions: 1) How do shifts in the timing of springtime bee emergence affect reproduction, foraging, and host-parasite interactions? 2) How does nest aggregation size affect host reproduction and risk of parasitism? and 3) Do female bees prefer to mate with genetically-related males? What mechanisms control mating preference?

Upon completion of my Ph.D., I plan to transition into a career in science communication. As a graduate student, I have had the opportunity to work in print and audio journalism. While working as a contributing writer for the California Environmental Legacy Project, I developed a science blog (“The Mindful Californian”) focused on the increasing overlap between human-dominated landscapes and the natural world. Later, I worked as an audio production assistant for Capital Public Radio (KXJZ) and produced my own stories on a range of topics, including wildfire-resistant cypress trees and hot air balloon racing. Currently, I work as a production intern for the California Report, a daily news program produced at KQED San Francisco.


S. Farzan, J.A. Whitney, and L.H. Yang (submitted) The phenology and spatial distribution of cavity-nesting Hymenoptera and their parasitoids in a native California oak-chaparral landscape mosaic.

Glasser, S.K. and S. Farzan (in review) Host-associated volatiles attract parasitoids of a native solitary bee (Osmia lignaria).

Farzan, S., E. Porse, A. Dedrick, D. Young, P. Coates, and G. Sampson. 2015. Western juniper management: assessing strategies for improving greater sage-grouse habitat and rangeland productivity. Environmental Management 56:675-683.

Farzan, S. 2014. Field dodder (Cuscuta campestris) does not promote nutrient flow between parasitized host plants. The Southwestern Naturalist 59:515-519.

Brosnahan, M. L., S. Farzan, B. A. Keafer, H. M. Sosik, R. J. Olson, and D. M. Anderson. 2014. Complexities of bloom dynamics in the toxic dinoflagellate Alexandrium fundyense revealed through DNA measurements by imaging flow cytometry coupled with species-specific rRNA probes. Deep Sea Research Part II: Topical Studies in Oceanography 103:185–198.

Marshall McMunn

University of California, Davis

Population Biology Graduate Group, Ph.D., expected 2017

I research community ecology on the short timescales, including both time of day and season. My research projects have investigated these questions:

1) How do time of day and season affect the ability of big sagebrush to respond to herbivore attack?

2) How do active arthropod communities change in terms of body size and trophic position with time of day?

3) How do time and temperature structure short-term community dynamics among Northern California ants?

To address these questions I have utilized field experiments, observations, and statistical models.


Karban, R., Grof-Tisza, P., McMunn, M., Kharouba, H., & Huntzinger, M. 2015. Caterpillars escape predation in habitat and thermal refuges. Early Online Ecological Entomology.

Stafford-Banks, C. A., L. H. Yang, M. S. McMunn, and D. E. Ullman. 2014. Virus infection alters the predatory behavior of an omnivorous vector. 2014 Oikos: 123, 1384-1390.

Diez, J., T. James, M. McMunn, I. Ibáñez. 2013. Predicting species-specific responses of fungi to climatic variation using historical records. Global Change Biology: 19, 3145-3154.

Ryan Schemrich

University of California, Davis

Entomology, B.S., expected 2017

All my life I have been intrigued by the masterpiece that is the natural world, and from an early age, the insects in particular caught my attention, and the fascination has never left me. I am excited to be going to Davis to pursue my dream, and I am very grateful that I have been given the opportunity to work in the Yang Lab! I am learning so much!

Vivian Le

Sacramento City College

Graphic Communications AS, expected 2017

I would not go so far as to say I always knew in my heart that I wanted to study biology. However, in my youth, I spent my days salting slugs, creating potions from crushed catkins steeped in water, and testing the drowning tolerance of ants. To this day, my inclination to mess with nature at least has not changed. Working with the Yang Lab I have the opportunity to disturb monarch caterpillars, puncture and infest milkweed leaves, and dye my fingers yellow with the juices from squished aphids. I am grateful for being part of a lab that allows for a diversity of experiences and above all else values the educational growth of their undergraduates. Plus we have snacks!

Joe DaRosa

University of California, Davis

Animal Biology, B.S., expected 2016

I have always been captivated by the science of life, from my brother running in the garden to the butterflies feeding next to him. After instinctively choosing animal biology as a major, I still had to choose my biological focus. And there was ecology - a field of biology that brings so many sciences together. And now, here I am with the great opportunity to gain experience in community ecology thanks to the Yang Lab. And, most importantly, I get to delightfully play with Danaus plexippus!

Darren Wong

University of California, Davis

Animal Biology, B.S., expected 2017

Growing up, I can recall constantly being exposed to science at home and at school, so I figured studying Animal Biology would be the natural thing to do. Not wanting to focus on one organism like many of those who chose the major, I decided an ecology lab would allow me to gain a better understanding of what I really wanted to study and I'm extremely grateful for the opportunity the Yang Lab has given me to do this.

Nicholas Winarto

University of California, Davis

Animal Biology, B.S., expected 2016

At a young age I found myself unattached to subjects not related to science, so naturally I chose to be a science major when I entered university. I honestly had no idea what branch of science I wanted to be a part of, and found a great interest in ecology after taking an introduction to ecology course here, at UC Davis. Being a part of The Yang Lab has provided me a way to further explore my interests. At this point in my life, I'm probably a 3rd instar larvae and I hope to emerge a butterfly most handsome and strong - I would prefer if my insides did not get digested and turned into goop in the process, though.

Allyson Earl

University of California, Davis

Environmental Horticulture and Urban Forestry (with a Spanish minor), B.S., expected 2016

I have always enjoyed studying the thing that surrounds us most, nature, or as I like to call it neat-ure, because it is pretty neat! The field of ecology has always been especially fascinating to me as it brings together all of the separate parts of the world into one big system. In the Yang Lab I have been able to study a part of this beautiful system and gain some incredible experiences and friends along the way. I have hunted caterpillars in the middle of the summer, watched as they turned into beautiful butterflies, and gained skills that will help my in my future research. The Yang lab has been an amazing part of my university experience and being surrounded by such exceptional scientific minds has only strengthened my love of ecology.

Geoffrey Osgood

University of California, Davis

Animal Biology, B.S., expected 2018

My interest in biology goes back as far as I can remember, and has been a passion that has only strengthened with time. The majesty and diversity of life never ceases to amaze me, and I hope to study this long into the future. I am so excited to see what sort of new things I can learn or be a part of here at UC Davis, especially at The Yang Lab!

Kenya Oto

Sacramento City College

Environmental Science and Management, B.S., expected 2019

I have been interested in nature since I started kayaking at age nine, and recently my interest have turned into a passion that I now study towards. I hope to get valuable experience out of the Yang Lab, so I may pursue my own research in the future.

Kabian Ritter

Howard Univerity

Chemistry (with a Biology minor), B.S., expected 2017

I am from Orangeburg, SC Chemistry Major Biology Minor at Howard University in Washington DC. My hobbies include music production, reading, traveling, enjoying nature, and socializing with my family and friends. My plans after graduation are possibly graduate school focusing on environmental science and climate change effects on species or alternative energy research. My life goals are to travel the world, staying a few months to years in various places all over the globe to experience their culture while simultaneously researching the species of that area.

Malin von Knorring

research scholar, 2015-2016

"Of all the paths you take in life, make sure a few of them are dirt." - John Muir

Jessica Aguilar

research assistant, 2014-2015

1) "You can do anything if you have enthusiasm." - Henry Ford 2) "Make haste slowly." - Gideon Strauss

Juan Andres De Domini

visiting student, 2015

"Ninguém educa ninguém, ninguém educa a si mesmo, os homens se educam entre si, mediatizados pelo mundo." - Paulo Freire

Laura Morgan

research undergrad, 2013-2015

“When you have seen one ant, one bird, one tree, you have not seen them all." - E.O. Wilson

Griffin Hall

research undergrad, 2013-2015

“Let's make science great again!” - Amin Montazer

Aarti Sharma

research undergrad, 2013-2015

“Quote to come.” - Unknown

Sonja Glasser

research undergrad, 2013-2015

"Fear is the mind-killer." - Frank Herbert, Dune

Heather Kharouba

postdoc, 2013-2015

"In wildness is the preservation of the world" - Henry David Thoreau

Heather Kenny

research undergrad, 2013-2014

“Our ability to perceive quality in nature begins, as in art, with the pretty. It expands through successive stages of the beautiful to values as yet uncaptured by language.” - Aldo Leopold

James Whitney

research undergrad, 2013-2015

“Trying to define yourself is like trying to bite your own teeth.” - Alan Watts

Jonah Piovia-Scott

postdoc, 2011-2014

"What I have learned is just enough to find my way farther." - Donald Culross Peattie

August Higgins

research assistant, 2013-2014

"Chase happiness."

Jenn McKenzie

research assistant, 2013-2015

"To keep every cog and wheel is the first precaution of intelligent tinkering." - Aldo Leopold

Robyn Screen

research assistant, 2013-2014

"Follow your bliss." - Joseph Campbell

Wanda Bonneville

research assistant, 2012-2013

"A society grows great when old men plant trees whose shade they know they shall never sit in." - Greek proverb

Alisa Kim

research assistant, 2013

"But let the mind beware, that though the flesh be bugged, the circumstances of existence are pretty glorious." - Jack Kerouac

Brady Lesnikoski

research undergrad, 2013

"The true delight is finding out rather than the knowing." - Isaac Asimov

Sasha Flamm

research assistant, 2012

"I want to look back on my career and be proud of the work, and be proud that I tried everything." - Jon Stewart

Patrick Lahey

research assistant, 2012

"Notice the questions you ask about the world and you will become more aware of what you like, who you are, and what you'd be happy doing for the rest of your days."

Nicholas Delucchi

research assistant, 2011

"We can't solve problems by using the same kind of thinking we used when we created them." - Albert Einstein

Erin Wilson

postdoc, 2010

1) "Never underestimate the benefit of a pilot study; you may discover new questions to answer." 2) "The plural of anecdote is not data."

Geoff Dubrow

research assistant, 2010

"If you try and take a cat apart to see how it works, the first thing you have on your hands is a non-working cat." - Douglas Adams

Kermit Yang

dog, 2010 to present

Zebbie Yang

cat, 2010 to present

Karoo Yang

human, 2012 to present

Toco Yang

human, 2015 to present