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Michael L. May

Professor Emeritus
Michael L. May headshot.


The principal focus of much of my current research is on the taxonomy and phylogeny of Odonata (dragonflies and damselflies) and the implications of phylogeny for interpretation of the evolution of morphology and behavior of these remarkable insects. On a regional level, I maintain a strong interest in the distribution and conservation of dragonflies in North America, and in New Jersey particularly.

I am also studying migratory behavior of dragonflies, especially the common green darner and am currently or have recently collaborated with colleagues at Princeton University, the University of Texas, and the Open University (UK) on this research. I continue longstanding investigations of body temperature regulation in dragonflies and the influence of energy exchange on the performance and evolution of behavior in these insects.

Finally, I have recently embarked on a collaborative project with Dr. J.M Hartman (Rutgers) to develop biodiversity assessment techniques for forested floodplain wetlands in New Jersey. My portion of this project examines litter macroinvertebrate diversity and abundance in these habitats.

Students working in my lab are engaged in research on systematics of dragonflies and of dung beetles and on the community ecology and conservation of mantids in South Africa.

Research Projects and Grants


Research Interests and Expertise

Systematics and taxonomy of Odonata, character evolution in Odonata, insect migration, insect energetics and behavioral ecology