Donald A. Yee

Associate Professor

Teaching interests (course material is available via the Yee lab site)

BSC 103 Biology and Society

BSC 201/L General Zoology

BSC 340 Introductory Ecology

BSC 411/511/L Entomology

BSC 648 Aquatic Insect Ecology

Visit the Yee lab of Aquatic Insect Ecology 

Visit my blog  Current Graduate Students

Research Interests

Insects are the dominant life form on Earth, representing more than 75% of all identified species. My lab focuses on community and population ecology of aquatic insects with a focus on species that occur in mosquito-dominated container systems and pond communities. My general interests lie in understanding patterns of species richness and abundance and how species interactions, like predation and competition, affect food webs. I also am interested in understanding how the type and amount of detritus that supplies energy for container systems affects nutrient dynamics and food webs, from the basal microorganisms through to their consumers. My lab employs a variety of tools when approaching research problems, including field observations and experiments, laboratory experiments, and statistical modeling.


A multitude of animal and human diseases are vectored by adult mosquitoes, the larvae of which inhabit aquatic containers (e.g., tree holes, discarded automobile tires). Because they are relatively easy to maintain in the laboratory and obtain and manipulate in the field they are an ideal study animal for testing ecological theories related to community organization and population dynamics. Specifically, research in my lab focuses on questions related to spatial and temporal population patterns, colonization and dispersal behavior, feeding behavior as it relates to competitive interactions, nutrient and stable isotope analysis, phenotypic plasticity in response to environmental variation, and the influence of invasive species (e.g., Aedes albopictusCulex coronator) on natives (e.g., Aedes triseriatusCulex quinquefasciatus).

Some recent publications on the ecology of container mosquitoes 

Yee, DA, SM Vamosi, & SA Juliano. 2012. Seasonal photoperiods alter developmental time and mass of an invasive mosquito, Aedes albopictus(Diptera: Culicidae), across its north-south range in the United States. Journal of Medical Entomology 49: 825-832

Yee, DA, D Allgood, JM Kneitel, & KA Kuehn. 2012. Constitutive differences between natural and artificial container mosquito habitats:  microorganisms, resources, and habitat parameters. Journal of Medical Entomology 49: 482-491

Winters, AE & DA Yee. 2012. Variation in performance of two co-occurring mosquito species across diverse resource environments: insights from nutrient and stable isotope analyses.  Ecological Entomology 37: 56-64

Yee, DA, JM Kneitel, & SA Juliano.  2010. Environmental correlates of abundances of mosquito species and stages in discarded vehicle tires. Journal of Medical Entomology 47:53-62 

Kaufman, MG, K Pelz-Stelinski, DA Yee, SA Juliano, P Ostrom, & ED Walker. 2010. Stable isotope analysis reveals detrital resource base sources of the tree hole mosquito, Ochlerotatus triseriatus. Ecological Entomology 35:586-593

Yee, DA.  2008. Tires as habitats for mosquitoes : a review of studies within the eastern United States. Journal of Medical Entomology 45:581-593 

Ecological Theory

A central focus of ecology has been in understanding the factors that control the number of species within a habitat. One of my main interests has focused on understanding the factors that control species richness in small aquatic microsystems. The container systems I work in are dominated by aquatic diptera (including medically important mosquitoes), but contain a number of non-dipteran insect larvae (e.g., Coleoptera) non-insects (e.g., copepods, annelids), and microorganisms (protozoans, fungi, bacteria). In several studies I have examined the relationship between productivity, abundance, and species richness of container species. 

Some recent publications testing ecological theory

Yee, DA & SA Juliano. 2012. Concurrent effects of resource pulse amount, type, and frequency on community and population properties of consumers in detritus-based systems. Oecologia 169: 511-522

Yee, DA, SH  Yee, JM  Kneitel, & SA Juliano. 2007. Richness-productivity relationships between trophic levels in a detritus-based system: significance of abundance and trophic linkage. Oecologia 154:377-385 

Yee, DA, MG  Kaufman, & SA Juliano.  2007.  The significance of ratios of detritus types and microorganism productivity to competitive interactions between aquatic insect detritivores. Journal of Animal Ecology 76:1105-1115 

Yee, DA, & SA Juliano. 2007. Abundance matters. A field experiment testing the more individuals hypothesis for richness-productivity relationships. Oecologia 153:153-162


Predaceous diving beetles

These predatory beetles, also known as dytiscids (Coleoptera: Dytiscidae), occur in various water bodies (e.g., ponds, streams, ditches) across the world. Although this family is composed of about 4,200 species world-wide, there exists little ecological knowledge about this cosmopolitan group. Larvae and adults all are predaceous, making them an important component of the aquatic food webs in which they occur. 

Some recent publications on the ecology of predaceous diving beetles

Yee, DA (editor). Ecology, Systematics, and the Natural History of Predaceous Diving Beetles (Coleoptera: Dytiscidae). Springer, The Netherlands (publication 2014)

Yee, DA  2010. Behavior and aquatic plants as factors affecting predation in three species of larval predaceous diving beetles (Coleoptera: Dytiscidae). Hydrobiologia 637:33-43 

Yee, DA, S Taylor, & SM  Vamosi. 2009. Beetle and plant density as cues initiating dispersal in two species of adult predaceous diving beetles. Oecologia 160:25-36