Illinois Natural History Survey - University of Illinois

David N Zaya
Title: Plant Ecologist
Mailing address:
Office address:
1816 S. Oak Street
Champaign, IL 61820
Address mailcode:
Office room:
Phone: 217-244-1946


Much of my work as a Plant Ecologist at the Illinois Natural History Survey focuses on plant communities across Illinois, how communities have changed over time, and factors associated with those changes. 

Additional research interests include
-Rare plant species biology and conservation
-Population genetics
-Plant reproductive biology
-Invasive shrubs and shrubland birds

Also, I'm interested in all things Celastrus (bittersweets, or staff vines).

Message to students:

It can be confusing, because I often change the length of my hair and beard.  But, I'm usually wearing field boots.

Professional affiliations:
Selected publications:

Koenig, W. D., J. M. H. Knops, M. B. Pesendorfer, D. N. Zaya, M. V. Ashley. 2017. Drivers of synchrony of acorn production in the valley oak (Quercus lobata) at two spatial scales. Ecology, in press.

Zaya, D. N., I. S. Pearse, G. Spyreas. 2017. Long-term trends in Midwestern milkweed abundances and their relevance to monarch butterfly declines.  BioScience 67:343-356.

Zaya, D. N., B. Molano-Flores, M. A. Feist, J. A. Koontz, J. Coons. 2017. Assessing genetic diversity for the USA endemic carnivorous plant Pinguicula ionantha R.K. Godfrey (Lentibulariaceae). Conservation Genetics 18: 171-180.                                        

Zaya, D. N., S. A. Leicht-Young, N. B. Pavlovic, K. A. Feldheim, M. V. Ashley. 2015. Genetic characterization of hybridization between native and invasive bittersweet vines (Celastrus spp.). Biological Invasions 17: 2975-2988.

Kim, E. S., D. N. Zaya, J. B. Fant, and M. V. Ashley. 2015. Genetic factors accelerate demographic decline in rare Asclepias species.  Conservation Genetics. 16:359-369.

Ruffatto, D. M., D.N. Zaya, and B. Molano-Flores. 2015. Reproductive success of the gynodioecious prairie species Lobelia spicata Lam. (Campanulaceae): female frequency, population demographics, and latitudinal patterns. International Journal of Plant Sciences. 176(2):120-130.

Grundel, R., K. J. Frohnapple, D. N. Zaya, G. A. Glowacki, C. Weiskerger, T. A. Patterson, and N. B. Pavlovic. 2014. Geographic coincidence of abundance, richness, conservation value, and response to climate of U.S. landbirds. Ecological Applications 24:791-811.

Zaya, D. N. and M. V. Ashley. 2012. Plant genetics for forensic applications. Pages 35-52 in N. J. Sucher, J. R. Hennell, and M. C. Carles, editors. Plant DNA Fingerprinting and Barcoding. Humana Press, New York, NY, USA.

Abraham, S. T., D. N. Zaya, W. D. Koenig, and M. V. Ashley. 2011. Interspecific and intraspecific pollination patterns of valley oak, Quercus lobata, in a mixed stand in coastal central California. International Journal of Plant Sciences 172:691-699.

Weekley, C. W., D. N. Zaya, E. S. Menges, and A. E. Faivre. 2010. Multiple causes of seedling rarity in scrub plum, Prunus geniculata (Rosaceae), an endangered shrub of the Florida scrub. American Journal of Botany 97:144-155.

Zaya, D. N. and H. F. Howe. 2009. The anomalous Kentucky coffeetree: megafaunal fruit sinking to extinction? Oecologia 161:221-226.

INHS Publink:
Program affiliates:
Professional society involvement and activities:

PhD in Biological Sciences, University of Illinois at Chicago, 2013. Advised by Dr. Mary V. Ashley

BS in Biological Sciences, University of Illinois at Chicago, 2005

Lab name: Lab research: Lab publications: Lab current projects:

Illinois Natural History Survey

1816 South Oak Street, MC 652
Champaign, IL 61820

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