Decomposing the effects of diversity on the abundance of marine parasites
As Earth’s ecosystems experience rapid biodiversity change, disease ecologists have turned to an urgent question: how might reductions in biodiversity affect the transmission of parasites? In other words, does biodiversity loss increase the abundance of parasites by eroding natural checks and balances on transmission? Or does it decrease parasite abundance by removing the free-living biodiversity on which parasites depend?
In a new project funded by NSF’s Biological Oceanography Program (NSF/GEO/OCE), the Wood Lab at the University of Washington is addressing this question by quantifying the relationship between fish biodiversity and parasite abundance across 18 replicate coral reef ecosystems of the central equatorial Pacific (Northern Line Islands, Southern Line Islands, French Polynesia). Not only will we explore whether reductions in fish biodiversity are associated with increases or decreases in parasite burdens, but we will also assess whether particular parasite and host traits and the spatial scale of the study influence the direction and strength of this relationship. The theories we propose to test are among the most important and controversial in the rapidly growing field of disease ecology and our lab is new and growing fast – read about this and other ongoing projects on our website and check out our recent publications for more details.
We seek to hire two creative, accomplished, driven parasite ecologists:
1. PhD Student – The PhD Student will join a vibrant community of aquatic scientists at the UW School of Aquatic and Fishery Sciences in Seattle, WA, with a start date of September 2019. The research goals of this position will include assessing the direction and shape of the relationship between biodiversity and parasite abundance across dozens of parasite taxa and assessing how spatial scale interacts with parasite dispersal capacity to moderate the effects of biodiversity on parasite abundance. The PhD Student will primarily work with fish specimens that will have already been collected, though there may be opportunities for field work. Applicants must have a background or demonstrated interest in disease ecology, parasite ecology, or host-parasite interactions. Prior experience identifying parasites of fishes is not required, but would be advantageous. To be considered for this position, prospective PhD students must apply to the graduate program of the UW School of Aquatic and Fishery Sciences. Prospective students should make contact with Chelsea well ahead of the formal graduate program application deadline of 15 December 2018. Please send an e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org summarizing your research experience and professional goals and attach a CV.
2. Postdoctoral Scholar – The Postdoctoral Scholar will join a vibrant community of aquatic scientists at the UW School of Aquatic and Fishery Sciences in Seattle, WA, with a negotiable start date between September 2019 and January 2020.The research goals of this position will include determining what factors (e.g., parasite traits like transmission strategy and host specificity, host traits like body size) influence the direction and shape of the relationship between biodiversity and parasite abundance. The Postdoctoral Scholar will primarily work with specimens that will have already been collected, though there may be opportunities for field work. Applicants must have a background in disease ecology, parasite ecology, or host-parasite interactions. Prior experience identifying parasites of fishes is not required, but would be advantageous. Applicants should expect to have a PhD in hand before the start date. This position is funded for one year, with possibility of extension to a second year given satisfactory progress. Interested applicants should send the following as a single pdf: (1) CV, (2) contact information for three references, and (3) a brief (< 2 pages) statement of research interests, as they relate to this position.
All applications will be evaluated based on past research productivity, alignment of applicant’s research interests with the objectives of the Wood Lab, and the individual’s potential to excel as an independent researcher. Questions about these positions may be addressed to Dr. Chelsea Wood (email@example.com).