Personal profile

Areas of Expertise

Metabarcoding and rapid biodiversity assessment;  Tropical ecology and conservation biology; South American indigenous people/anthropology; Mutualisms and symbioses, using economic game theory; Environmental DNA, Effectiveness of Nature Reserves, Biodiversity, Tropical Ecology, Mutualisms (Cooperation Between Species), Rewilding

Video: Ecology Live w/Douglas Yu! Managing biodiversity with eDNA: fish, leeches, insects, ponds & forests

Administrative Posts

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



  • 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)
  • NATO Postdoctoral Fellow, Imperial College (1998)
  • Ph.D., M.S. - Harvard University (1997) 
  • 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 Google Scholar webpage for publications.

I co-founded the company NatureMetrics:

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:

Levi, T., Allen, J.M., Bell, D., Joyce, J., Russell, J.R., Tallmon, D.A., Vulstek, S.C., Yang, C.Y., Yu, D.W. (2019) Environmental DNA for the enumeration and management of Pacific salmon. Molecular Ecology Resources. 19:597-608. doi:10.1111/1755-0998.12987

Bush, A., Sollmann, R., Wilting, A., Bohmann, K., Cole, B., Balzter, H., Martius, C., Zlinszky, A., Calvignac-Spencer, S., Cobbold, C. A., Dawson, T.P., Emerson, B. C., Ferrier, S., Gilbert, M. T. P., Herold, M., Jones, L., Leendertz, F. H., Matthews, L., Millington, J. D. A., Olson, J., Ovaskainen, O., Raffaelli, D., Reeve, R., Rödel, M.-O., Rodgers, T. W., Snape, S., Visseren-Hamakers, I., Vogler, A. P., White, P. C. L., Wooster, M. J., D. W. Yu. (2017) Connecting Earth Observation to High-Throughput Biodiversity Data. Nature Ecology and Evolution. 1:0176. doi: 10.1038/s41559-017-0176.

Crampton-Platt, A., Yu, D.W., Zhou X., Vogler, A.P. (2016)  Mitochondrial metagenomics:  Letting the genes out of the bottle. GigaScience 5:15. doi:10.1186/s13742-016-0120-y.

Tang, M., Hardman, C.J., Ji, Y.Q., Meng, G.L., Liu, S.L., Tan, M.H., Yang, S.Z., Moss, E.D., Yang, C.X., Bruce, C., Nevard, T., Potts, S.G., Zhou, X., and D.W. Yu. (2015) High-throughput monitoring of wild bee diversity and abundance via mitogenomics. Methods in Ecology and Evolution. 6:1034–1043.

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 metabarcodingEcology Letters, 16, 1245–1257.

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.


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.

Archetti, M., Scheuring, I., Yu, D.W.  Non-Tragedy of the Non-Linear Commons, doi:10.20944/preprints202004.0226.v2


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

Evolution, Ecology and Behaviour (BIO-4002B)

Evolutionary Biology (BIO-5008B)

Evolutionary Biology and Conservation Genetics (BIO-6008B & BIO-7027B)

Statistics and Modelling for Scientists Using R (ENV-7033B)

Education/Academic qualification

Doctor of Philosophy, Harvard University

… → 1997

Master of Science, Harvard University

… → 1997

Bachelor of Arts, Princeton University

… → 1987

Media Expertise

  • Conservation
  • Biodiversity

Collaborations and top research areas from the last five years

Recent external collaboration on country/territory level. Dive into details by clicking on the dots or