Career History

  • Professor of Ecology (2015-present)
  • Principal Investigator and Director of the Ecology, Conservation, and Environment Center (ECEC), a joint venture of UEA with the Kunming Institute of Zoology ( (2008-present)
  • Reader - University of East Anglia (2010-2015)
  • Lecturer - University of East Anglia (2000-2010)
  • Postdoctoral research associate, Imperial College Centre for Population Biology (1999-2000)
  • Ph.D. - Harvard University (1997) NATO Postdoctoral Fellow, Imperial College (1998)
  • B.Sc. - Biology, Princeton University (1987)

Key Research Interests

We study cooperation in two of its manifestations:

      Conservation (cooperation between humans and nature) and

      Mutualisms (cooperation between species).

See my personal webpage for more detail:

Current Research Projects 

My research group concentrates on developing rapid, molecular protocols for measuring biodiversity, which we call "Biodiversity Soup". Without mechanisms to monitor the state of nature in ways that are cheap, repeatable, and verifiable, there is no way to set up incentives to preserve biodiversity.

Key papers are:

Yu, D. W., Ji, Y. Q., Emerson, B. C., Wang, X. Y., Ye, C. X., Yang, C. Y. & Ding, Z. L. (2012) Biodiversity Soup: Metabarcoding of arthropods for rapid biodiversity assessment and biomonitoring. Methods in Ecology and Evolution, 3, 613–623.

Ji, Y. Q., Ashton, L., Pedley, S. M., Edwards, D. P., Tang, Y., Nakamura, A., Kitching, R. L., Dolman, P., Woodcock, P., Edwards, F. A., Larsen, T. H., Hsu, W. W., Benedick, S., Hamer, K. C., Wilcove, D. S., Bruce, C., Wang, X. Y., Levi, T., Lott, M., Emerson, B. C. & Yu, D. W. (2013) Reliable, verifiable, and efficient monitoring of biodiversity via metabarcoding. Ecology Letters, 16, 1245–1257.

Other research projects include:

Resolving people-park conflicts, using the relationship between Matsigenka Amerindians and Manu National Park, Peru as a model system.

Yu, D. W., Shepard, G. H., Ohl-Schacherer, J. & Levi, T. (2013) Resolviendo el conflicto “parque-personas” en el Manu, con la estrategia "Ocupar la Amazonía". Reporte Manu 2013: Pasión por la investigación en la Amazonía Peruana (eds. J. Groenendijk, A. Tovar & W. Wust), pp. 342–368. San Diego Zoo Global Peru y SERNANP, Lima, Peru.

An English-language version ("Resolving the people-park conflict in Manu with the Occupy Amazon strategy") is available on the and ResearchGate websites listed above.

Microbiome evolution (especially ones dominated by Actinobacteria), using game theory as a guide.

Scheuring, I. & Yu, D. W. (2012) How to assemble a beneficial microbiome in three easy steps. Ecology Letters, 15, 1300-1307.

Archetti, M., Scheuring, I., Hoffman, M., Frederickson, M. E., Pierce, N. E. & Yu, D. W. (2011) Economic game theory for mutualism and cooperation. Ecology Letters, 14, 1300-1312.


PhD Positions 

Click here for current PhD opportunities in Biological Sciences. But feel free to email me to discuss projects outside these areas and alternative sources of funding.

Postdocs & Fellows 

I very much welcome postdoctoral associates who wish to conduct fieldwork in east Asia. I can provide laboratory facilities, logistical help, and introductions to appropriate Chinese collaborators. I am also happy to sponsor fellowship applications to funders outside China that involve the same.

Teaching Interests

I teach on

Introduction to Evolution, Ecology and Behaviour (BIO-4002B)

Evolutionary Biology (BIO-2B10)

Evolutionary Biology and Conservation Genetics (BIO-3C24)

Multivariate Statistics (ENV-MA72)

Professional Activities

Principal Investigator and Director of the Ecology, Conservation and Environment Center at the Kunming Institute of Zoology (2008-present)

Associate Editor, Methods in Ecology and Evolution (2013-present)

External examiner for MSc in Conservation Science, Imperial College at Silwood Park (2012-2015)


Administrative Posts

Module Organiser of Evolutionary Biology and Conservation Genetics (BIO-3C24)