Parasites & Host Animals with Fins

by Dr. Kevin D. Lafferty, U.S. Geological Survey,

and Dr. Chelsea L. Wood, University of Washington




Kevin Lafferty, Senior Ecologist


Marine Ecologist, Western Ecological Research Center, US Geological Survey

Principal Investigator, Marine Science Institute, UC Santa Barbara

Adjunct Faculty, Ecology, Evolution and Marine Biology, UC Santa Barbara

Ph.D., Ecology, University of California, Santa Barbara, CA 1991

M.A., Zoology, University of California, Santa Barbara, CA 1988

B.A., Aquatic Biology, University of California, Santa Barbara, CA 1985

Phone: 805 893 8778

Email: Lafferty@lifesci.ucsb.edu


As a marine ecologist for the US Geological Survey, I support the research needs of the Department of Interior specifically and the federal government in general. I also mentor several PhD students and postdoctoral students. My main line of research is on the ecology of parasites. In this capacity, I am a member of the ecological parasitology group at UC Santa Barbara. I work on conservation biology issues, including research to guide the protection and recovery of the endangered tidewater goby, black abalone, southern sea otter, and western snowy plover. In addition, I study the effect of fishing on marine communities. I use a variety of approaches, including field surveys, lab and field experiments, meta-analysis, mathematical modeling, and network (foodweb) analysis. Common systems of study are local estuaries, beaches, and kelp forests but include coral reefs and arctic lakes.

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Chelsea Wood, Assistant Professor


School of Aquatic and Fishery Sciences at the University of Washington

Ph.D., Stanford University’s Department of Biology, 2013

B.A., Ecology and Evolutionary Biology from Dartmouth College, 2006

Phone: 206-685-2163

Email: chelwood@uw.edu

Lab Website


My research program explores the ecology of parasites and pathogens in a changing world. I address several questions with practical applications to marine and freshwater conservation, as well as essential value for ecological theory. First, does loss of biodiversity generally increase or decrease parasite transmission? In other words, do human impacts on biodiversity increase the prevalence of parasites by eroding natural “checks and balances” on transmission or decrease prevalence when they remove the free-living biodiversity on which parasites depend? Second, if – as recent data suggest – biodiversity loss has variable effects on transmission across parasites, what factors predict disease outcomes? Might transmission strategy of the parasite, the magnitude or timing of biodiversity loss, or the scale of observation influence whether transmission increases, decreases, or remains unchanged in response to an environmental impact? Answers to these questions are urgently needed as global change accumulates and as the perceived threat of infectious disease grows.

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