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Don Feener


Ph.D. University of Texas, Austin

Office/Building: Biol 308
Phone: 801-581-6444; 801-581-6893

Research Statement

Ants comprise a diverse and ecologically successful group that supports an even more diverse assemblage of insects and other arthropods. The Feener laboratory seeks to understand the behavioral and ecological characteristics that have allowed ants to obtain ecological dominance in many communities and how ant associates are able to exploit these ecological dominants. A primary focus of our research is understanding how environmental constraints, interspecific trade-offs, and indirect effects affect the assembly local ant communities. Our aim is to quantify common interspecific trade-offs between competitive ability and other traits such as resource discovery, parasitoid vulnerability and thermal tolerance and then develop an integrative, mechanistic theory of species interactions that will allow us to predict co-occurrence and abundance of species in local ant communities. Other research interests include the evolutionary and behavioral ecology of interactions between ants and specialized parasitoids in the dipteran family Phoridae and functional morphology of castes in social insects.

Research Interests

General Interests
Specific Interests
  • Ecology of direct and indirect effects in insect communities
  • Evolutionary and behavioral ecology of host-parasitoid interactions
  • Division of labor and functional ecology of ant castes

Selected Publications

  • Gibb, H., N. J. Sanders, et. al (2015) Climate mediates the effects of disturbance on ant assemblage structure. Proceedings of the Royal Society B 282: DOI: 10.1098/rspb.2015.0418.
  • Moyano, M. & D. H. Feener Jr. (2015) Nest relocation of the ant Pheidole dentata (Hymenoptera: Formicidae) as a thermoregulatory behavior. Insectes Sociaux 62:
  • Moyano, M. & D. H. Feener Jr. (2014) Nest relocation in the ant Pheidole dentata. Insectes Sociaux 61: 71-81.
  • Wiescher, P. T., J. M. C. Pearce-Duvet & Donald. H. Feener Jr. (2012) Assembling an ant community: species functional traits reflect environmental filtering. Oecologia DOI: 10.1007/s00442-012-2262-7.
  • Wilkinson, E. B. & D. H. Feener Jr. (2012) Exploitative competition and risk of parasitism in two host ant species: the roles of habitat complexity, body size and behavioral dominance. Psyche DOI:10.1155/2012/238959.

Courses Taught

  • Biol 5445: Entomology
  • Biol 5425: Advanced Ecology
  • Biol 3410: Principles of Ecology and Evolution
  • Biol 6500: Advanced Statistical Modeling for Biologists