Welcome to the Dark Side of Biology!

  • The Rise of Disease Ecology

    A new paper coauthored by Janet Koprivnikar at Ryerson University and Pieter Johnson was the subject of a recent press release by the Journal of Parasitology. The paper explores the rise of disease ecology as a discipline and how greater integration with parasitology can lead to new insights. See press release here

  • A Volcanic Blitz

    Travis McDevitt-Galles and Piet Johnson undertook a sampling blitz around Lassen Volcanic National Park and Lassen National Forest, visiting 34 remote wetlands over four days. The visit may shed new light on the role of drought in causing periodic ‘outbreaks’ of deformed frogs in the area, which last year affected ~70% of emerging chorus frogs at some sites.

  • A Warm Welcome!

    We are excited to welcome two new PhD students this Fall – Travis McDevitt-Galles and Wynne Moss. Travis, who completed his Masters thesis with us this past spring, has officially made the transition into the PhD program. Wynne did her Master’s thesis at the University of Wisconsin, Madison, investigating how urbanization affects predator foraging behavior. See here for more details on their interests and profiles.

  • Image by D. Herasimtschuk, Freshwaters Illustrated

    A World Without Parasites

    Renowned science journalist Carl Zimmer talks about what a world without parasites would really be like, building from the recent publication by Drs. Chelsea Wood and Pieter Johnson (featured on the cover of Frontiers in Ecology and the Environment).

  • The “Nightlife” of a Field Biologist

    Led by graduate student Travis McDevitt-Galles, our field team wrapped up a highly successful summer in the East Bay region of California. Here pictured sampling for invasive bullfrogs by headlamp. 

  • Image by D. Herasimtschuk, Freshwaters Illustrated

    California’s Mega Drought

    The worst drought in 1,000 years is strongly affecting animals dependent on water. Here Dr. Johnson holds up the dried-out carcasses of California newts killed by extra dry conditions. 

Our research focuses on two pervasive and inter-related forms of biological change: disease emergence and species invasions. Both have important consequences not only for individuals and populations, but for entire ecological communities and ecosystem processes. Invasions and disease can also have costly economic and health repercussions for human society.  Our group strives to bring a broad perspective to these questions by combining field experiments, large-scale spatial and temporal field data, molecular tools and ecological modeling.

Disease Community Ecology

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We apply approaches from community ecology to better understand and manage contemporary disease threats of humans and wildlife, which are often the product of interactions among multiple host species, coinfecting parasites, and other species

Our Troubled Waters

Hog Lake manipulation

Lakes, rivers, ponds and streams have become some of the most imperiled habitats on earth. Our group uses diverse tools ranging from genomics to ecosystem experiments to understand how freshwater systems are changing and at what cost

Complexity in Conservation

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Effective management requires approaches than can measure, anticipate and ameliorate the consequences of interactive stressors, such as land use change, pollution, invasive species and climate shifts