Research in the Yanoviak lab is a blend of behavioral, evolutionary, and community ecology. We conduct field-based observational and experimental investigations addressing three general questions: 1) How do species interactions and anthropogenic disturbance shape local biodiversity?; 2) What selection pressures shape the behavior and morphology of arboreal organisms?; and 3) How do ecological patterns in the forest canopy relate to those in the understory? Most of our current work is located in the neotropics and focuses on arthropods, especially ants. The links below highlight some recent and ongoing projects.
How do key structural elements of tropical forest canopies (especially lianas) shape the local species richness and composition of arboreal ants? How do ants interact with different canopy substrates? What is the role of physical connectivity in the maintenance of local ant diversity?
Do lianas provide lightning protection for tropical trees? What is the role of lightning in tropical forest dynamics? Are some tropical trees resistant to the effects of lightning?
What happens to wingless arthropods when they fall from trees? What is the taxonomic distribution of directed aerial descent behavior? How do wingless arthropods glide? What is the evolutionary relevance of this behavior?
How do parasites affect ant behavior and morphology? What is the life cycle of the “berry ant” parasite and what are the mechanisms for dispersal to new colonies? Do the parasites track the geographic range of their hosts? What causes the change in color form black to red?