Duffy Lab research featured by PBS NewsHour!

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PBS NewsHour recently featured Daphnia! Their piece includes both video and a write up, which begins:

From a human perspective, the clear, calm waters of Michigan’s lakes — surrounded by trees, filled with fish, reflecting the sky — could hardly be more peaceful.

For the tiny critters below the surface, it’s a life-or-death battlefield. “Water fleas” dart from place to place, collecting food, dodging predators and fighting diseases.

We’re really excited about how it all turned out. Click through to read the whole article! You can watch the video either in that article or here:

Two recent papers on interactions between parasites!

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Patrick Clay, a visiting grad student from Rice who will return as a postdoc this spring, is lead author on two papers exploring how interactions between parasites influence ecological dynamics. Most studies focus on just a single parasite infecting a host, but the norm in nature is that there are multiple parasites circulating in a population at a time. (If you doubt this, just visit the nearest daycare.)

In a Clay et al. paper that just appeared in The American Naturalist, we show that the order in which two parasites arrive in a single infected host influences the effects they have on each other and on the host. That, in turn, influences how likely it is that the two parasites will coexist. This paper uses data collected by former Duffy Lab undergrad Kailash Dhir.

The second paper (in press at Oikos) is a theory paper that shows that parasites that harm each other within individual hosts can actually facilitate each other’s spread at the population scale. These results suggest that within‐host priority effects can change host population‐scale infection patterns in systematic (and initially counterintuitive) ways, and that taking them into account may improve disease forecasting in coinfected populations.

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The Daphnia on the left is uninfected; the one on the right is infected with Pasteuria ramosa, a common bacterial pathogen. Pasteuria was one of the parasites studied in the new Clay et al. AmNat paper. (photo credit: Meghan Duffy)

Clara to teach at UMBS this spring!

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Clara Shaw will be teaching the Spring Term section of General Ecology at the University of Michigan Biological Station this May-June. Clara received a Master’s in Education from the University of Mississippi before joining our EEB PhD program, so this will be a great way to combine her love of ecology and her love of teaching.

More info can be found here! And congrats, Clara!

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Welcome, Khadijah!

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We are very excited to have Khadijah Payne in the lab as a grad student! Khadijah is in her first year in the Frontiers Masters program. Khadijah is interested in aquatic ecology and thinks parasites are fascinating, so she fits in very well with our lab! Welcome, Khadijah!

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Alliyah & Mia finish up their Doris Duke research in the lab

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This summer, we once again hosted two Doris Duke scholars in the lab. We really enjoyed having Alliyah and Mia in the lab and are sorry that the program is over! Here are some pictures of them at work!

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Mia harvesting algae in the lab (photo credit: Kristel Sanchez)

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Alliyah measuring temperature and oxygen using the Hydrolab (photo credit: Clara Shaw)

And here they are presenting their research at the poster session. They did a great job!

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Mia with her poster (photo credit: Katie Hunsberger)

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Alliyah with her poster (photo credit: Katie Hunsberger)