Photo of Jayne Yack

Jayne Yack


Phone:613-520-2600 x 3887
Office:Office: 250 Nesbitt Building
Lab: 233 Nesbitt Building
Website:Visit my lab website


Neuroethology is an exciting field that lies at the crossroads of Animal Behaviour and Neuroscience. The objectives of the neuroethologist are: (1) to understand how animal nervous systems are organized to generate behaviour, and (2) to understand how the process of evolution has shaped the nervous system of different species living in unique habitats. The field is multidisciplinary, integrating concepts and methods from a broad range of fields, including animal behaviour, neuroscience, comparative and physiological psychology, and genetics.

In my laboratory we are interested in how insects use their sensory systems to detect and process information from their natural environments to promote adaptive behaviours. We employ a variety of methodologies in bioacoustics, comparative neuroanatomy, neurophysiology, laser vibrometry and behavioural experimentation to form an integrated view of an animal’s sensory experience. Four primary areas of study include: (1) vibroacoustic communication in caterpillars and other larval insects, (2) the function and evolution of insect hearing organs, (3) acoustic communication in bark beetles, and (4) hearing in butterflies. Outside of these areas, students in my laboratory have worked on a range of projects, from developing molecular based phylogenies, to studying vision in nocturnal butterflies and vibration sensitivity in earthworms.

I am always happy to accept new graduate and undergraduate students who are interested in the field of Neuroethology. A wide variety of projects are available, and students may choose to work in the laboratory, field, or a combination of the two. Please contact me if you have any questions.

Selected Publications

Bura VL, Rower VG, Martin PR, Yack JE (2011) Whistling in caterpillars (Amorpha juglandis, Bombycoidea): Sound-producing mechanism and function. Journal of Experimental Biology 214:30-37

Scott JL, Kawahara AY, Skevington JH, Yen S, Sami A, Smith ML, Yack JE (2010) The evolutionary origins of ritualized acoustic signals in caterpillars. Nature Communications. 1:4

Yack, JE (2004) The structure and function of auditory chordotonal organs in insects. Microscopy Research and Technique. 63:315-337

Yack, JE, Smith, ML, Weatherhead, PJ (2001) Caterpillar Talk: Acoustically mediated territoriality in larval Lepidoptera. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. 98:11371-11375.

Yack, JE, Fullard, JH (2000) Ultrasonic hearing in nocturnal butterflies. Nature. 403:265-266.