Insect Ecophysiology Lab

Michael Dillon
Zoology and Physiology
Program in Ecology
University of Wyoming


This website is currently being revamped, with the new one to go live by early 2019. Please check back soon!

In my lab, we combine field research with laboratory manipulations to address questions at the interface of ecology, physiology, and evolution. Currently research in the lab builds from two main topics (see the Research page for more details).

Physiological ecology of High-altitude

Altitudinal gradients provide excellent natural experimental systems in which to study organism physiology and ecology. We are interested in why and how some organisms do so well in these harsh environments.

Climate and organism physiology

I am interested in how organism physiology interacts with climate to determine large-scale patterns of abundance and diversity. We use both modeling and experimental approaches to address these questions.

Prospective students

I am always looking for good students. If you are interested in joining the lab, please email me and we'll go from there.


September 2014

temperature variation

Our paper on global shifts in diurnal and annual temperature cycling is now out in Nature Climate Change. We hope it encourages more research on the potential ecological impacts of changes in temperature variation.

Jonathan's paper on morphological divergence in Cinclodes has been accepted to The Auk ... congratulations Jonathan!

August 2014

Kennan Oyen has joined the lab as a Program in Ecology PhD student. Welcome to Wyoming, Kennan!

July 2014

Michael is off to give invited seminars at the World Congress of Biomechanics and at the Unifying Ecology Across Scales Gordon Research Conference.

June 2014

Michael is off to the UCROSS ranch to participate in the UCROSS pollination experiment which brings together 4 scientists and 4 artists to undertake genuinely collaborative projects at the interface of science and art.

May 2014

Olivia has a nice article out in Castilleja, the newsletter of the Wyoming Native Plant Society: How will climate change affect native plant-bee mutualisms

Jonathan Rader successfully defended his MS thesis and if off to UNC to do a PhD in Ty Hedrick's lab.

Susma Giri has been awarded a National Geographic Young Explorer's Grant for her work on native honeybees in Nepal -- nice work Susma!

Jessica's paper on scaling of bumblebee tracheole dimensions is now out in CBP-A -- cool stuff!

April 2014

Jessica Vogt and Olivia Nater successfully defended their MS theses ... nice work! Jessica is off to a research position in Idaho and Olivia is off to Switzerland to work for the IUCN

February 2014

alpine bumblebee

Our paper on bumblebee flight on mountains just came out in Biology Letters. It has caused quite a buzz, with coverage by, among others: NBC news, Nature, Smithsonian Magazine, National Geographic, and LiveScience.

Bumblebee flying at the equivalent of 6000 m.

Interview on The Osgood File.

December 2013

insect sizes and development time curves Our paper on allometric scaling of development time in insects just came out in PLoS ONE.

November 2013

Susma Giri has won an A & S Saunders Walters Study Abroad Scholarship to work on parasites and energy stores in natural populations of honeybees in Nepal.

October 2013

Jessica Vogt's paper on allometric scaling of tracheal morphology in bumblebees has just come out. Congratulations Jessica!

September 2013

Congratulations to MS students Rajib Shaha (Engineering) and Jessica Vogt on their new paper using micro-CT to measure grasshopper tracheal volumes.

May 2013

PhD student Susma Giri has been awarded the prestigious Boyd Evison Graduate Fellowship to continue her work on physiology of native bees across altitude. Nice work Susma!

MS student Sarah DePaolo joined the lab to lead our project looking at effects of wind farm development on pollinator communities. Welcome Sarah!

April 2013

Congratulations to MS student Olivia Nater who won three (!) awards to continue her work on pollinator and plant communities in SE Wyoming: the Wyoming Native Plant Society Markow Scholarship, the UW Women in Conservation Biology, Ecology, and Education Fellowship, and the UW Arts and Sciences Summer Independent Study Award.

Congratulations to Susma Giri who was awarded the L. Floyd Clarke Graduate Scholars Award!

March 2013

MS student Olivia Nater has been awarded a Wyoming NASA Space Grant Consortium Graduate Fellowhip. Way to go Olivia!

December 2010

load-lifting methodology

Our methodology for studying flight performance of orchid bees has been put to good use by MythBusters! In their December 1 Bug Special, Adam and Jamie bust the myth that a swarm of honeybees can lift a laptop (propagated by this popular video). They use our load-lifting methodology (Dillon and Dudley, 2004) to estimate how much an individual honey bee can lift, then extrapolate to suggest the feat is impossible (of course, there are a number of behavioral and aerodynamic reasons why the myth should be busted as well--but it makes for good TV!)

October 2010

Caiman lizard, Tim
    Vickers/Wikimedia Commons

Check out our recent paper in Nature: Global metabolic impacts of recent climate warming
Michael E. Dillon, George Wang, and Raymond B. Huey. Nature 467, 704-706.

Among other places, it was featured on Science News, Voice of America, Our World (aired the weekend of 16 Oct.), Discovery Channel Daily Planet (Oct 6 show), Climate Wire,, and Science Daily.

Last modified: Fri Oct 10, 2014