Photo of Jayne Yack

Jayne Yack

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 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

Sun P, Mhatre N, Mason AC, Yack JE (2018) In that vein: inflated wing veins contribute to butterfly hearing.  Biology Letters 14:20180496 

Bura VL, Kawahara AY, Yack JE (2016) A comparative analysis of sonic defences in Bombycoidea caterpillars.  Scientific Reports (Nature Journal) 6:31469

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, Smith, ML, Weatherhead, PJ (2001) Caterpillar Talk: Acoustically mediated territoriality in larval Lepidoptera. PNAS. 98:11371-11375.

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