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Lance Jones

Profile picture for Lance Jones

Contact Information

204 Morrill Hall
505 S. Goodwin Ave
Urbana, IL 61801
Plant Biology Graduate Student -- Advisor: Stephen Downie


I have had a long interest in evolution and ecology, particularly humankind's effort to describe the biota of the planet. Prior to starting at the University of Illinois, I worked for a decade managing natural history collections at the American Museum of Natural History and the New York Botanical Garden in New York City. 

Research Interests

Systematics of insects and flowering plants, especially Depressariidae (webworm moths) and Drosophilidae (fruit flies), as well as Apiaceae (carrot family); alpha-level taxonomy of Drosophilidae, chemical ecology, phytochemistry, nomenclature, paleontology, natural history collection management, the history of taxonomy, urban/suburban biodiversity and its relationship with gardening.

Research Description

My dissertation work in the Berenbaum lab focuses on the moth genus Depressaria, as well as their plant hosts in the family Apiaceae (carrot family). Many of these moths (~24 species) occur in Western North America, as well as their plant hosts, many of which belong to the perennial endemic North American clade (PENA, ~200 species). I am studying the systematics of these moths, including building the first molecular-based phylogeny of the North American species. Along with a consortium of botanists working on the phylogenomics of the PENA clade, led by Jim Smith at Boise State University, I am using these phylogenetic hypotheses to understand the coevolution of both of these groups. Other work will focus on characterizing the chemistry of these plants which has been understudied, as well as the evolution of chemistry within the PENA clade. 

Other lines of research focus on the taxonomy and distributions of fruit flies (Drosophilidae). I am currently working on a checklist of the family for the state of Illinois, which has uncovered new species in three genera. Work has also begun on revising the Neotropical species of Amiota, a strange drosophilid group with interesting life histories and bizarre behaviors. This is an extension of recently published work on the genus (Jones and Grimaldi, 2022). 

I also volunteer time curating the Diptera (true flies) of the collections at the Illinois Natural History Survey. 


B.A. in Biology (2011), Blackburn College

M.S. in Biology (2020), City College of New York (affiliated with American Museum of Natural History)

Courses Taught

IB 103, Introduction to Plant Biology

IB 104, Animal Biology

IB 335, Plant Systematics

Additional Campus Affiliations

Illinois Natural History Survey, Division of Entomology

Recent Publications

Jones, L.E. and D.A. Grimaldi. 2022. Revision of the Nearctic species of the genus Amiota Loew (Diptera: Drosophilidae). Bulletin of the American Museum of Natural History, 458: 1-177.

Rozen, J.G., E.A.B. Almeida, C.S. Smith, and L.E. Jones. 2021. Intratribal variation among mature larvae of stingless bees (Apidae: Meliponini) with descriptions of the eggs of 11 species. American Museum Novitates, 3971: 1-47.

Jones, L.E., A.B. Berkov, and D.A. Grimaldi. 2021. Saproxylic fly diversity in a Costa Rican forest mosaic. Journal of Natural History, 55 (19-20): 1251-1265.

Grimaldi, D.A. and L.E. Jones. 2020. A revision of the Drosophila spinipes species group (Diptera:  Drosophilidae). Zootaxa, 4809 (1): 1-28.