Patrick’s paper on how to predict multipathogen epidemics is out in Proc B!

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Duffy Lab postdoc Patrick Clay is lead author on a new paper in Proceedings B showing that shifts in epidemic phenology (as might occur in a changing climate) can alter epidemic dynamics as a result of within-host priority effects. The work combined experimental epidemics (from work Patrick did when he was a visiting grad student in the lab) with models of within-host and between host dynamics. More info on the study is in this press release from Rice. The Clay, Duffy, and Rudolf paper can be found here.

New paper on light sensitivity of Pasteuria out in Journal of Plankton Research

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Meghan is a coauthor on a new paper that looks at the sensitivity of the common bacterial parasite Pasteuria ramosa to light. The paper finds that Pasteuria is sensitive to UV-B, UV-A, and visible light. The first author of the paper, Erin Overholt, was also the lead author of an earlier study showing that Metschnikowia is sensitive to light. In both studies, we found that the parasite is more sensitive to damage from light than the Daphnia hosts are.

Here’s the abstract of the new paper (link to full paper):

Climate change is altering light regimes in lakes, which should impact disease outbreaks, since sunlight can harm aquatic pathogens. However, some bacterial endospores are resistant to damage from light, even surviving exposure to UV-C. We examined the sensitivity of Pasteuria ramosa endospores, an aquatic parasite infecting Daphnia zooplankton, to biologically relevant wavelengths of light. Laboratory exposure to increasing intensities of UV-B, UV-A, and visible light significantly decreased P. ramosa infectivity, though there was no effect of spore exposure on parasitic castration of infected hosts. P. ramosa is more sensitive than its Daphnia host to damage by longer wavelength UV-A and visible light; this may enable Daphnia to seek an optimal light environment in the water column, where both UV-B damage and parasitism are minimal. Studies of pathogen light sensitivity help us to uncover factors controlling epidemics in lakes, which is especially important given that water transparency is decreasing in many lakes.

2019 field season is done!

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The 2019 field season is over! Normally our field season runs from mid-July through November 14th, since November 15th is the start of deer gun hunting season in Michigan. But this year Mother Nature made us end field season a little early. We had a blizzard (11 inches of snow!) followed by extremely cold (single digit Fahrenheit) temperatures in what would have been the last week of field season, so we ended it early. Here are some pictures from this past field season!

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New paper on student understandings of climate change!

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Meghan has a new article out entitled, “Preaching to the choir or composing new verses? Toward a writerly climate literacy in introductory undergraduate biology”. This work is a collaboration with JW Hammond (from the UMich School of Education) and Susan Cheng (at UMich’s Center for Research on Learning & Teaching). Some key findings:

  • Almost all students (98%!) arrived in the Intro Bio course we studied already accepting climate change. Does this mean we were preaching to the choir? Maybe, but it has value! Students came to better understand the science underlying climate change and the severity and immediacy of its impacts.
  • At the same time, there are clearly areas where instruction could improve. A key is that we need to consider how our instruction influences not just what students think, but how they feel. One student reported a panic attack mid-lecture while learning about climate change. Many became more worried. And most left class thinking that humans will not act to effectively address climate change. So, we need to think more about how to cover the seriousness of climate change while not leaving students feeling powerless or like climate disaster is a foregone conclusion.
  • In our paper, we call for a shift from a focus on “readerly” climate literacy, to a “writerly” one, where we focus not just on whether students know facts about climate change, but also whether they are prepared to use them. The discussion gives a series of suggestions about how to do that. It’s open access, so you can check it out if you’re interested!

Here’s a Michigan News release about the piece:

Teaching about climate needs to empower students toward change

Welcome to postdocs Laura and Patrick!

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We’re a little late in getting Patrick’s start announced, and very late for Laura’s, but on the principle of better late than never:

Dr. Laura Lopez started as a postdoc in August (I told you we’re late in getting this announced!) Laura is earned her PhD in 2017 from the University of Wollongong in Australia, where she worked with Andy Davis and Marian Wong. She then did an Australia Awards Endeavour postdoc at UC Davis, where she worked with Andy Sih. Laura is interested in behavioral ecology and natural enemy ecology, as well as the conservation of freshwater ecosystems. She’s working on projects at the interface of behavioral ecology, disease ecology, and predation.

Dr. Patrick Clay started as a postdoc in April (phew, we’re not so late in announcing his start!) Patrick just earned his PhD from Rice University, where he worked with Volker Rudolf (but also collaborated with the Duffy Lab!) Patrick is a disease ecologist who is especially interested in co-infections and in how processes that occur at the within host level scale to populations and communities.

We’re very excited to have both of them in the lab!