Y. Miles Zhang, PhD

Postdoc, USDA, Systematic Entomology Lab

Email: yuanmeng.zhang AT gmail.com

I am an evolutionary biologist specializing in the diversity and evolution of parasitic wasps. These organisms, though often tiny, contribute an estimated 20% of terrestrial animal species and play diverse and important roles in many ecosystems, including natural control of insect pests. However, the evolutionary forces that have driven the explosive diversification of parasitic wasps remain poorly-understood. My long-term aim is to establish and lead a research group that explores the causation of the enormous abundance and species richness of specialized herbivores and their associated parasitoid communities. Only with such understanding can we predict, for example, the consequences of climate change on the abundance and distribution of these systems and its effect on the ecosystem.
See my interview on Entomology Today


2016 – 2018 Ph.D. Biology, University of Central Florida
2013 – 2015 Ph.D. Entomology University of Manitoba (transferred with advisor)
Advisor: Dr. Barbara Sharanowski
2009 – 2012 M.Sc. Biology, Laurentian University
Advisor: Dr. Joseph Shorthouse
2004 – 2009 B.Sc. Zoology, University of Guelph


2020 - Present ORISE Postdoctoral Research Scholar, USDA SEL
Advisor: Dr. Michael Gates
2018 – 2020 Postdoctoral Research Associate, University of Florida
Advisor: Dr. Andrea Lucky
2018 Adjunct Lecturer, University of Central Florida
2016 – 2018 Instructor of Record, University of Central Florida
2014 – 2015 Graduate Teaching Assistant, University of Manitoba
2010 – 2012 Graduate Teaching Assistant, Laurentian University


Hymenoptera Phylogenomics using Ultraconserved Elements (UCEs)

My postdoc work focuses on using UCEs to generate genomic-level data to reconstruct the phylogeny of Ants, Gall Wasps, and their Parasitoids:

  1. Zhang, Y.M., Williams, J.L., Lucky, A. (2019) Understanding UCEs: A comprehensive primer on using Ultraconserved Elements for arthropod phylogenomics. Insect Systematics and Diversity, 3: 3. PDF
  2. Williams, J.L., Zhang, Y.M., Lloyd, M.W., LaPolla, J.S., Schultz, T.R., Lucky, A. (2020) Global domination by crazy ants: Phylogenomics reveals biogeographic history and invasive species relationships in the genus Nylanderia (Hymenoptera, Formicidae). Systematic Entomology, 45: 730–744. PDF
  3. Zhang, Y.M., Buffington, M.L., Looney, C., László, Z., Shorthouse, J.D., Ide, T., Lucky, A. (2020). UCE data reveal multiple origins of rose gallers in North America: Global phylogeny of Diplolepis Geoffrey (Hymenoptera: Cynipidae). Molecular Phylogenetics & Evolution, 153: 106949. PDF

Taxonomy and Systematics of Gall Wasps and Associated Natural Enemies

I am also interested in taxonomy of gall wasp and their associated natural enemies, in particular Eurytomidae:

  1. Zhang, Y.M., Gates, M.W., Shorthouse, J.D. (2014). Testing species limits of Eurytomidae (Hymenoptera) associated with galls induced by Diplolepis (Hymenoptera: Cynipidae) in Canada using an integrative approach. The Canadian Entomologist, 146: 321–334. PDF
  2. Egan, S.P., Weinersmith, K.L., Liu, S., Ridenbaugh, R.D., Zhang, Y.M., Forbes, A.A. (2017). Description of a new species of Euderus Haliday from the southeastern United States (Hymenoptera, Chalcidoidea, Eulophidae): the crypt-keeper wasp. ZooKeys, 645: 37–49. PDF Featured in Science News, National Geographic, Popular Science, Eureka Alert, Daily Mail
  3. Zhang, Y.M., Gates, M.W., Shorthouse, J.D. (2017). Revision of Canadian Eurytomidae (Hymenoptera, Chalcidoidea) associated with galls induced by cynipid wasps of the genus Diplolepis Geoffroy (Hymenoptera, Cynipidae) and description of a new species. Journal of Hymenoptera Research, 61: 1–29. PDF
  4. Zhang, Y.M., László, Z., Looney, C., Dénes, A.-L., Hanner, R.H., Shorthouse, J.D. (2019) DNA barcodes reveal inconsistent species boundaries in Diplolepis rose gall wasps and their Periclistus inquilines (Hymenoptera: Cynipidae) based on DNA barcodes. The Canadian Entomologist, 151: 717–727. PDF
  5. Wienersmith, K.L., Forbes, A.A., Ward, A.K.G., Brandão-Dias, P.F.P., Zhang, Y.M., Egan, S.P. (2020) Invertebrate Community Associated with the Asexual Generation of Bassettia pallida Ashmead (Hymenoptera: Cynipidae). Annals of the Entomological Society of America, 113: 373–388. PDF
  6. Gates, M.W., Zhang, Y.M., Buffington, M.L. (2020) The great greenbriers gall mystery resolved? New species of Aprostocetus Westwood (Hymenoptera, Eulophidae) gall inducer and two new parasitoids (Hymenoptera, Eurytomidae) associated with Smilax L. in southern Florida, USA. Journal of Hymenoptera Research, 80: 71-98. PDF
  7. Zhang, Y.M., Egan, S.P., Driscoe, A.L., Ott, J.R. (2021) One Hundred and Sixty Years of Taxonomic Confusion Resolved: Belonocnema Mayr (Hymenoptera: Cynipidae, Cynipini) Gall Wasps Associated with Live Oaks in the USA. In Press at Zoological Journal of the Linnean Society. PDF

Taxonomy, Phylogenetics and Ecological Speciation of Braconid Wasps

The focus of my PhD research was to investigate speciation patterns of euphorine braconid wasps at the genus, species, and population level:

  1. Sharanowski, B.J., Zhang,Y.M., Wanigasekara, R.W.M.U.M. (2014). Annotated Checklist of Braconidae (Hymenoptera) in the Canadian Prairies Ecozone. In: Arthropods of Canadian Grasslands. Volume 4: Biodiversity and Systematics, Part 2. Edited by: D. J. Giberson and H. A. Cárcamo. Biological Survey of Canada. Chapter 10, pp 399-425. PDF
  2. Zhang, Y.M., Sharanowski, B.J. (2014). New species of Eudiospilus (Braconidae, Brachistinae) from Madagascar with a review of the genus and key to species. Zootaxa, 3838: 120-126. PDF
  3. Quicke, D.L.J., Shaw, M.R., van Achterberg, C., Bland, K.P., Butcher, B.A., Lyszkowski, R., Zhang, Y.M. (2014). A new Australian genus and six new species of Rogadinae (Hymenoptera: Braconidae), one reared as gregarious endoparasitoid of an unidentified limacodid (Lepidoptera). Zootaxa, 3881: 237–257. PDF
  4. Zhang, Y.M., Ridenbaugh, R.D., Sharanowski, B.J. (2017). Integrative taxonomy improves understanding of native beneficial fauna: Revision of the Nearctic Peristenus pallipes complex (Hymenoptera: Braconidae) and implications for release of exotic biocontrol agents. Systematic Entomology, 42: 596-608. PDF Top 20 Most Downloaded Paper for Systematic Entomology in 2017/2018
  5. Zhang, Y.M., Stigenberg, J., Meyer, J., Sharanowski, B.J. (2018). Multilocus phylogeny of the parasitic wasps in the tribe Euphorini (Braconidae: Euphorinae) with revised generic classifications. PeerJ, 6: e4783. PDF
  6. Zhang, Y.M., Bass, A.I.H., Fernández, D.C., Sharanowski, B.J. (2018). Habitat or Temporal Isolation: Unravelling herbivore-parasitoid speciation patterns using double digest RADseq. Ecology and Evolution, 8: 9803–9816. PDF
  7. Stigenberg, J., Zhang, Y.M. (2020). New findings of the subfamily Euphorinae (Hymenoptera: Braconidae) from Papua New Guinea, with descriptions, illustrations, and molecular data. In: Insects of Mount Wilhelm, Papua New Guinea Volume II. Edited by: T. Robillard, F. Legendre, C. Villemant, and M. Leponce. French Museum of Natural History, pp 145–190. PDF

Other Publications

I’ve also dabbled in various topics:

  1. Hogan, J.M., Bass, A.I.H., Zhang, Y.M., Sharanowski, B.J. (2019). Integrating multiple sources of biodiversity information suggests range expansion of a rare species of Hymenoptera (Vanhorniidae). Biodiversity Data Journal, 7: e37569. PDF
  2. Zhang, Y.M., Vitone, T., Storer, C.G., Payton, A.C., Dunn, R.R., Hulcr, J., McDaniel, S.F., Lucky, A. (2019) From pavement to population genomics: characterizing a long-established non-native ant in North America through citizen science and ddRADseq. Frontiers in Ecology & Evolution. 7: 453. PDF
  3. Lucky, A., Atchison, R.A., Ohyama, L., Zhang, Y.M., Williams, J.L., Pinkney, J.L., Clancy, K.L., Nielsen, A.N., Lippi, C.A. (2020). Myrmecology, Gender, and Geography: changing demographics of a research community over thirty years. Myrmecological News, 30: 187-199. PDF Best Paper Award 2020
  4. Huber, J.T., Bennett, A.M.R., Gibson, G.A.P., Zhang, Y.M., Darling, D.C. (2021). Checklist of Chalcidoidea and Mymarommatoidea (Hymenoptera) of Canada, Alaska and Greenland. Journal of Hymenoptera Research 82: 69-138. PDF