Lee Dyer smiles at the camera standing before a large, rocky canyon.

Lee Dyer

Professor and Director of the Ecology, Evolution and Conservation Biology graduate program he, him, él


  • Postdoctoral Fellowship Ecology; University of California Santa Cruz; 1994/1995
  • Ph.D. Ecology, University of Colorado, Boulder, 1994
  • Bachelor of Arts Biochemistry, University of California Santa Barbara, 1987
  • Bachelor of Arts English, University of California Santa Barbara, 1987

Research interests

Work in the chemical ecology and tropical diversity laboratory focuses on direct and indirect trophic interactions in complex biotic communities with emphases on global change, documenting the diversity of multi-trophic interactions, and examining the effects of plant secondary compounds on insect herbivores and their natural enemies. The main source of funding for our research comes from the National Science Foundation, Earthwatch Institute, the Department of Defense, and private funding sources. The major continuing research topics of our laboratory and collaborators include: 1) Chemical ecology; 2) Diversity of interactions in tropical and temperate forests; 3) Variation in tritrophic interactions due to climate change; 4) Conservation and applied ecology; 5) Quantitative ecology; 6) Coevolution across multiple trophic levels

Selected publications

  • Dyer, L.A. and M.L. Forister. 2015. The lives of Lepidopterists. Springer.
  • Richards, L.A., L. A. Dyer, M.L. Forister, A.M. Smilanich, C.D. Dodson, M.D. Leonard and C. S. Jeffrey. 2015. Phytochemical diversity drives tropical plant-insect community diversity. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 112: 10973-10978.
  • Greeney, H.F., R. Meneses, C.E. Hamilton, E.R. Hough, E.K. Austudillo, E. Lichter-Marck, R.W. Mannan, N. Snyder, H. Snyder, C.M. Ripplinger, S.M. Wethington, and L.A. Dyer. 2015. Trait-mediated trophic cascade creates enemy-free space for nesting hummingbirds. Science Advances - 1, e1500310.
  • Pardikes, N.A., A.M. Shapiro, L.A. Dyer, and M.L. Forister. 2015. Global weather and local butterflies: variable responses to a large-scale climate pattern along an elevational gradient. Ecology - In Press.
  • Forister, M. L., Novotny, V., Panorska, A. K., Baje, L., Basset, Y., Butterill, P. T., Cizek, L., Coley, P. D., Dem, F., Diniz, I. R., Drozd, P., Fox, M., Glassmire, A., Hazen, R., Hrcek, J., Jahner, J. P., Kama, O., Kozubowski, T. J., Kursar, T. A., Lewis, O. T., Lill, J., Marquis, R. J., Miller, S. E., Morais, H. C., Murakami, M., Nickel, H., Pardikes, N., Ricklefs, R. E., Singer, M. S., Smilanich, A. M., Stireman, J. O., Villamarín-Cortez, S., Vodka, S., Volf, M., Wagner, D. L., Walla, T., Weiblen, G. D., and L. A. Dyer. 2015. Global distribution of diet breadth in insect herbivores.  Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 112:442-447.
  • Dyer, L.A., T.J. Massad, and M.L. Forister. 2015. The question of scale in trophic ecology. Pages 288-317 in: Hanley, T. and K. La Pierre (eds.). Trophic Ecology: Bottom-Up and Top-Down Interactions across Aquatic and Terrestrial Systems. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, MA.
  • Dyer, L.A., T.L. Parchman, C.S. Jeffrey, and L.A. Richards. 2014. New dimensions of tropical diversity: an inordinate fondness for insect molecules, taxa, and trophic interactions. Current Opinions in Insect Science 2:14-19.
  • Jeffrey, C.S., M. D. Leonard, A. E. Glassmire, C. D. Dodson, L. A. Richards, M. J. Kato, and L. A. Dyer. 2014. Anti-herbivore prenylated benzoic acid derivatives from Piper kelleyi. Journal of Natural Products 77:148-153.
  • Dyer, L.A., Wagner, D.L., Greeney, H.F., Smilanich, A.M., Massad, T.M., Robinson, M. Fox, M., Hazen, R., Glassmire, A., Pardikes, N., Fredrickson, K., Pearson, C., Gentry, G.L., and J.O. Stireman III. 2012. Novel insights into tritrophic interaction diversity and chemical ecology using 16 years of volunteer supported research. American Entomologist 58:15-19.
  • Dyer, L.A. 2011. New Synthesis. Back to the future: New approaches and directions in chemical studies of coevolution. Journal of Chemical Ecology 37:669.
  • Dyer, L.A., Carson, W.P., Leigh, E.G. 2011. Insect Outbreaks in Tropical Forests: Patterns, Mechanisms, and Consequences. In: Barbosa, P., Letourneau, D.K. and Agrawal, A.A. Insect Outbreaks Revisited. Wiley-Blackwell, New Jersey.
  • Dyer, L.A., Letourneau, D.K., Vega Chavarria, G. and D. Salazar Amoretti. 2010. Herbivores on a dominant understory shrub increase local plant diversity in rain forest communities. Ecology 91:3707-3718.
  • Rodriguez-Castaneda, G., Dyer, L.A., Brehm, G., Connahs, H., Forkner, R.E., and T.R. Walla. 2010. Tropical forests are not flat: how mountains affect herbivore diversity. Ecology Letters 13:1348-1357.
  • Smilanich, A.M., L.A. Dyer, M.D. Bowers, and J.Q. Chambers. 2009. Immunological costs to specialization and the evolution of insect diet breadth. Ecology Letters 12:612-621.
  • Smilanich, A.M., L.A. Dyer, and G. L. Gentry. 2009. The insect immune response and other putative defenses as effective predictors of parasitism. Ecology 90:1434-1440.