Michael D. Ulyshen

Research Entomologist
Insects, Diseases, and Invasive Plants (RWU 4552)
USDA Forest Service


  • B.S. in Zoology and B.A. in Chemistry, Miami University, 2002
  • M.S. in Entomology, University of Georgia (2005)
  • Ph.D. in Entomology, University of Georgia (2009)

Professional Experience

  • Postdoctoral Research Associate, Michigan State University (2009-2010)
  • Postdoctoral Research Associate, The Ohio State University (2010)
  • Entomologist, USDA-FS-SRS (2010-2014)
  • Research Entomologist, USDA-FS-SRS (2014-Present)

Research Interests

  1. Impacts of timber harvesting on forest insect communities,
  2. the vertical stratification of forest insect assemblages,
  3. the value of woody debris to arthropod conservation in managed forests,
  4. biological control of the emerald ash borer and
  5. contributions of termites and other wood-feeding insects to decomposition and forest productivity.

Current Research

Emerald ash borer biological control

The invasive emerald ash borer has killed millions of ash trees in North America and continues to spread throughout the eastern United States and Canada. As a Postdoctoral Research Associate at Michigan State University (2009-2010), I worked with three parasitic wasp species (Oobius agrili, Tetrastichus planipennisi and Spathius agrili) introduced as biological control agents against emerald ash borer. Research priorities during this time included the development of a simple yet highly reliable and productive rearing method for T. planipennisi, the potential interactions between T. planipennisi and S. agrili at release sites, the suitability of different emerald ash borer larval stages for T. planipennisi rearing, and the development of a field-cage technique for evaluating climatic suitability for T. planipennisi and S. agrili.

Collaborators: Michigan State University, USDA-FS-NRS, USDA-ARS, USDA-APHIS

  • Duan, J.J., Oppel, C.B., Ulyshen, M.D., Bauer, L.S., Lelito, J. 2011. Biology and life history of Tetrastichus planipennisi (Hymenoptera: Eulophidae), a larval endoparasitoid of the emerald ash borer (Coleoptera: Buprestidae). Florida Entomologist 94: 933-940.
  • Ulyshen, M. D., Duan, J. J., Bauer, L. S., Gould, J., Taylor, P., Bean, D., Holko, C., van Driesch, R. 2011. Field-cage methodology for evaluating climatic suitability for introduced wood-borer parasitoids: Preliminary results from the emerald ash borer system. Journal of Insect Science. 11.141.
  • Ulyshen, M. D., Mankin, R. W., Chen, Y., Duan, J. J., Poland, T. M. and Bauer, L. S. 2011. Role of emerald ash borer (Coleoptera: Buprestidae) larval vibrations in host-quality assessment by Tetrastichus planipennisi (Hymenoptera: Eulophidae). Journal of Economic Entomology 104: 81-86.
  • Duan, J. J., Bauer, L. S., Ulyshen, M. D., Gould, J. and van Driesch, R. 2011. Development of methods for the field evaluation of Oobius agrili (Hymenoptera: Encyrtidae) in North America, a newly introduced egg parasitoid of the emerald ash borer (Coleoptera: Buprestidae). Biological Control 56: 170-174.
  • Duan, J. J., Ulyshen, M. D., Bauer, L. S., Gould, J. and van Driesche, R. 2010. Measuring the impact of biotic factors on populations of immature emerald ash borers (Coleoptera: Buprestidae). Environmental Entomology 39: 1513-1522.
  • Ulyshen, M. D., Duan, J. J., Bauer, L. S., and Fraser, I. 2010. Suitability and accessibility of immature Agrilus planipennis (Coleoptera: Buprestidae) stages to Tetrastichus planipennisi (Hymenoptera: Eulophidae). Journal of Economic Entomology. 103: 1080-1085.
  • Ulyshen, M. D., J. Duan, and L. Bauer. 2010. Interactions between Spathius agrili (Hymenoptera: Braconidae) and Tetrastichus planipennisi (Hymenoptera: Eulophidae), larval parasitoids of Agrilus planipennis (Coleoptera: Buprestidae). Biological Control 52: 188-193.

Role of insects in promoting wood decomposition and forest productivity

Because dead wood is important in forest nutrient cycling, there is great interest in understanding what factors determine the rate by which it decomposes and the implications for forest productivity. Insects are assumed to contribute little to the process in most existing global decomposition models but this remains largely untested. As an Entomologist (2010-2014) with the Southern Research Station in Starkville, MS, I showed that up to a fifth of wood loss in southeastern US forests can be attributed to termites and other wood-feeding insects. I also have a study underway exploring the connection between wood-feeding insects and productivity in loblolly pine plantations and am investigating the effects of termites on fungal and bacterial communities.

Collaborators: USDA-FS-SRS, Mississippi State University.

  • Ulyshen, M.D. in press. Wood decomposition as influenced by invertebrates. Biological Reviews.
  • Ulyshen, M.D. 2014. Interacting effects of arthropods and flooding on wood decomposition. PLoS ONE 9: 1-9 (e101867).
  • Ulyshen, M.D., Wagner, T.L, Mulrooney, J. 2014. Contrasting effects of insect exclusion on wood loss in a temperate forest. Ecosphere 5: 1-15 (article 47).
  • Ulyshen, M.D., Wagner, T.L. 2013. Quantifying arthropod contributions to wood decay. Methods in Ecology and Evolution 4: 345-352.