My research focuses on the causes and consequences of host-symbiont interactions, especially in lake zooplankton. Some themes of ongoing work in my lab include 1) why symbionts sometimes harm their hosts but other times benefit those hosts, 2) why some symbionts are restricted to a single host type while close relatives can infect very distantly related hosts, and 3) the influences of the environment on the free-living stages of symbionts.
Intensive studies of natural host populations form the foundation of my lab’s research, pointing to phenomena worthy of further exploration. We complement this intensive field sampling with molecular studies, lab and field experiments, and mathematical modeling aimed at uncovering the drivers of the patterns we observe in the field.
Historically, symbionts of lake zooplankton were largely overlooked. My research has helped demonstrate that symbionts are integral parts of lake food webs. More specifically, my research has shown that symbionts – especially parasites – have major impacts on the ecology and evolution of their host populations, sometimes with consequences for ecosystem-level processes. My work has also helped to show that other food web members, including predators and competitors, can have large influences on host-symbiont interactions.
Symbiosis in Aquatic Systems
University of Michigan, Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology