John O. Stireman, III

Biological Sciences
Biological Sciences Bldg 020, 3640 Colonel Glenn Hwy., Dayton, OH 45435-0001


BIO 2310 - Ecology and Evolution

BIO 3150 - Invertebrate Zoology

BIO 4060/6060 - Evolutionary Biology

BIO 4700/6700 - General Entomology

BIO 4920/8000 - Senior/graduate seminars (including Field Ecology and Natural History)

Research Statement


I have broad interests in ecology and evolutionary biology and in uniting these fields to study how biological diversity is organized into communities and how it has developed over evolutionary time.  My research interests span such topics as plant-insect and tri-trophic interactions, the processes of population differentiation and speciation, phylogenetic systematics, and the structure of ecological communities. My focus is primarily on insects, which, due to their immense taxonomic and ecological diversity, offer countless opportunities to examine a wide range of ecological and evolutionary questions.

I have combined approaches from a variety of fields in my studies of insect herbivores and parasitoids and their interactions. Most of this work revolves around understanding how tritrophic interactions shape the ecological niches of plant-feeding insects and how these interactions facilitate population divergence, speciation, and adaptive radiation. I have also focused on insect herbivores and parasite communities as indicators of ecological health in examining the effects of habitat fragmentation and invasive species on their diversity and abundance. I addition, I hold a deep interest in the basic task of documenting and understanding insect biodiversity. The approaches and tools I employ are broad, including field surveys and experiments, controlled laboratory experiments, molecular and morphological phylogenetics, population genetics, collection based research and statistical modeling. Although my approach tends to be focused on basic science, I am interested in how results from these studies can be applied in such fields as biological conservation and biological control of pests.
Some specific projects that I am currently involved in or developing include:

  • Phylogeny and evolution of the Tachinidae –  I have a keen interest in the diversity and evolutionary relationships of tachinid flies (Diptera:Tachinidae), and in the evolution of their host associations and attack strategies. With collaborators J.E. O’Hara (CNC); P. Cerretti (U. Roma), J.K. Moulton (U. Tenn.) and others, I have been working towards reconstructing the evolutionary relationships of the family on a world-wide basis. We plan to use our phylogenetic results will be used to revise current classifications and assess the evolution of host-associated traits. I am also involved in several taxonomy/systematics projects focused on tachinid flies.
  • Adaptive radiation in Asteromyia gall midges and their parasitoids -- A collaborative NSF funded project (with P. Abbot, Vanderbilt U.) aimed at examining the ecological causes and evolutionary patterns of adaptive radiation. We are using the association of Asteromyia gall midges on their goldenrod host plants as a focal study system for this work due to the widespread, fine-scale host associated genetic differentiation in this system and the complex multi-trophic interactions that are likely shaping this diversification. This work involves field surveys and field experiments, lab experiments, insect systematic and molecular phylogenetic and phylogeographic methods. In addition, we are currently beginning to employ genomic analyses to understand adaptive divergence in this system.
  • Diversity and community structure of caterpillars and parasitoids in the Ecuadorian Andes - A collaborative project with Lee Dyer (Tulane U.) and many others aimed at documenting the diversity of Lepidoptera and their parasitoids in a montane tropical cloud forest, and understanding their tritrophic interactions and compartmentalization into food webs. My focus is on the diversity, taxonomy, and host associations of the tachinid fly parasitoids.
  • The effects of anthropogenic change on tritrophic interactions: plant-caterpillar-parasitoid interactions in the Midwest US – An ongoing project examining the effects of climate change, forest fragmentation and invasive honeysuckle on the diversity and dynamics of insect communities in southwest Ohio.


Recent Publications

Ulyshen, M.D., Zachos, L.G., Stireman, J.O. III, Sheehan, T., Garrick, R.C. 2017. Insights into the ecology, genetics and distribution of Lucanus elaphus Fabricius (Coleoptera: Lucanidae), North America’s giant stag beetle. Insect Conservation and Diversity 10:331-340.

Stireman, J.O. III, Dyer, L.A., and Greeney, H.F. 2017. Specialized generalists? Food web structure of a tropical tachinid-caterpillar community. Insect Conservation and Diversity. 10:367-84. doi: 10.1111/icad.12238.

Cerretti, P. Stireman, J.O. III, Pape, T., Marinho, M.A.T., Rognes, K., and Grimaldi, D. 2017. First definitive fossil of an oestroid fly (Diptera: Calyptratae: Oestroidea) and the dating of oestroid divergences. PLOS One 12(8): e0182101.

Oberhauser, K., Elmquist, D., Perilla-Lopez, J.M., Gebhard, I., Stireman, J.O. III. 2017. Tachinid fly (Diptera: Tachinidae) parasitoids of Danaus plexippus (Lepidoptera: Nymphalidae). Annals of the Entomological Society of America 110:536-543.

Inclán, D.J., O’Hara, J.E., Stireman, J.O. III, Shima, H., Pohjoismäki, J., Lo Giudice, G. and Cerretti, P. 2018. The monophyly of the Glaurocarini (Diptera: Tachinidae: Tachininae) with the description of a new species of Semisuturia from Australia. Insect Systematics & Evolution 49:1-22.

Inclán, D.J., Stireman, J.O. III, Cerretti, P. 2016. Redefining the generic limits of Winthemia (Diptera: Tachinidae). Invertebrate Systematics 30:274-289.

Stireman, J.O. III. 2016. Community ecology of the “Other” Parasitoids. Current Opinion in Insect Science 14: 87-93.

Von Ellenrieder, N., Hauser, M., Kinnee, S., O’Hara, J.E., Stireman, J.O. III, Cerretti, P., Wood, D.M. 2015. First record of a tachinid fly parasitoid (Diptera: Tachinidae) on a dragonfly (Odonata: Calopterygidae). Studia Dipterologica 21(2014):335-341.

Letourneau, D.K., Kula, R.R., Sharkey, M.J., Stireman, J.O. III. 2015. Habitat eradication and cropland intensification may reduce parasitoid diversity and natural pest control services in annual crop fields. Elementa: Science of the Anthropocene 3:000069. DOI: 10.12952/journal.elementa.000069

I.S. Winkler, J.D. Blaschke, D.J. Davis, M.S, J.O. Stireman III, J.E. O'Hara, P.Cerretti, J.K. Moulton. 2015. Explosive radiation or uninformative genes? Origin and early diversification of tachinid flies (Diptera: Tachinidae). Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution. 88:38-54

Cerretti, P., O'Hara, J.E., Winkler, I.S., Giudice, G., Stireman III, J.O.  2015. Two tribes hidden in one genus: the case of Agaedioxenis Villeneuve (Diptera: Tachinidae: Exoristinae). Organisms Diversity & Evolution. DOI 10.1007/s13127-015-0211-0.

M.L. Forister, P.D. Coley, I.R. Diniz, M. Fox, A. Glassmire, R. Hazen, J. Hrcek, J. Jahner, T.J. Kozubowski, T. Kursar, J. Lill, R.J. Marquis, H.C. Morais, M. Murakami, V. Novotny, A.K. Panorska, N. Pardikes, R.E. Ricklefs, M.S. Singer, A. Smilanich, J.O. Stireman, D. L. Wagner, T. Walla, G.D. Weiblen, L.A. Dyer. 2015. The global distribution of diet breadth in insect herbivores. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 112:442-447.

Inclán, D.J. & Stireman, J.O. III. 2014. A new species and synonymy of the Neotropical Eucelatoria Townsend and re-description of Myiodoriops Townsend. Zookeys. 464:63-97.

Stireman, J. O. III, Devlin, H., & Doyle, A.L. 2014. Habitat Fragmentation, tree diversity and plant invasion interact to structure forest caterpillar communities. Oecologia, 176: 207-224.

Cerretti, P., O'Hara, J.E., Wood, D.M., Shima, H., Inclán, D.J., & Stireman, J.O. III. 2014. Signal through the noise? Phylogeny of the Tachinidae (Diptera) as inferred from morphological evidence. Systematic Entomology 39:335-353.

Heath, J.J., Kessler, A., Woebbe, E., Cipollini, D.F., & Stireman, J. O. III.  2014. Exploring plant defense theory in tall goldenrod, Solidago altissima. New Phytologist. 202:1357-1370.

Cobbs, C.C., Heath, J.J., Stireman, J.O. III & Abbot, P. 2013. Carotenoids in unexpected places: gall midges, lateral gene transfer, and carotenoid biosynthesis in animals. Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution.  68:221-228

Heath, J.J., Cipollini, D.F., & Stireman, J. O. III. 2013. The role of carotenoids in mediating interactions between insects and their environment. Arthropod-Plant Interactions. 7:1-20.

Inclán, D.J. & Stireman, J. O. III. 2013. Revision of the genus Erythromelana Townsend, 1918 (Diptera: Tachinidae) with description of 11 new species and analysis of their phylogeny and diversification. Zootaxa. 3621:1-82.

Heath, J.J., Wells, B.L., Cipollini, D.F., & Stireman, J. O. III. 2013. Carnivores and carotenoids are associated with adaptive behavioural divergence in a radiation of gall midges. Ecological Entomology. 38:11-22.

Letourneau, D.K., Bothwell Allen, S.G., & Stireman, J. O. III. 2012. Perennial habitat fragments, parasitoid diversity and parasitism in ephemeral crops. Journal of Applied Ecology 49:1405-1416.

Stireman, J. O. III, Devlin, H., & Abbot, P. 2012. Rampant host and defensive phenotype associated diversification in a goldenrod gall midge. Journal of Evolutionary Biology 25:1991-2004.

Stireman, J.O. III, Cerretti, P., Whitmore, D., Hardersen, S. and Gianelle, D. 2012. Composition and stratification of a tachinid (Diptera: Tachinidae) parasitoid community in a European temperate plain forest. Insect Conservation and Diversity 5:346–357

Salvato, M.H., Salvato, H.L. and Stireman, J.O. III. 2012. Chetogena scutellaris (Diptera: Tachinidae) an endoparasite of larval Strymon acis bartrami (lycaenidae). Journal of the Lepidopterists’ Society 66:113-114 (General Notes)

Forister, M.L., Dyer, L.A., Singer, M.S., Stireman, J.O. and Lill, J.T. 2012. Revisiting the evolution of ecological specialization, with emphasis on insect-plant interactions. Ecology 93:981-991.

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