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GS-15 Marine Ecologist
HQ Phone:  (805) 893-8000
Direct Phone: (805) ***-****
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342 Lagoon Road Mail Code 2055
Santa Barbara, California,923106-2055
The University of California, Santa Barbara (UCSB) is one of 10 universities in the University of California system, and is one of only 62 research-intensive institutions elected to membership in the prestigious Association of American Universities. The distin... more.
Director and ANU Immunologist
Chief Executive Officer
U.S. Geological Survey Scientist
U.S. Geological Survey
John Curtin School
UC Santa Barbara
Free lecture with Kevin Lafferty.
Saturday, November 19, 7:00 p.m. Tipton Meeting House, UC Sedgwick Reserve. 3566 Brinkerhoff Avenue, Santa Ynez. Join us for an eye-opening talk about the hidden complexities of local aquatic ecosystems. Researcher Kevin Lafferty Kevin Lafferty's main interest is in how parasites affect ecosystems and, in turn, how ecosystems affect parasites. He also conducts research on conservation of marine resources, investigating strategies for protecting endangered shorebirds, fish and abalone, and has assessed how marine reserves affect ecosystems. Lafferty received a PhD in Ecological Parasitology from UC Santa Barbara and took a postdoc with the National Marine Sanctuary and a research position at UCLA. He is currently a Marine Ecologist for the US Geological Survey at the Channel Islands Field Station, and a UCSB adjunct faculty member in the department of Ecology, Evolution and Marine Biology.
Effect of the Trematode parasite Euhaplorchis californiensis on the Behavior of the Estuarine Killifish, Fundulus parvipinnis - Kevin Lafferty, UCSB
General Patterns in the Structure of Coastal Wetlands Communities - Richard Ambrose, UC Los Angeles, and Kevin Lafferty, UCSB Parasite Communities as a Model for Community Structure - Kevin D. Lafferty, UCSB Chemistry
As an example, the gonad consuming parasite Euhaplorchis californiensis has been described by Kevin Lafferty, a parasitologist at UC Santa Barbara.
Read an account of this manipulative parasite here. (Of note, Kevin taught parasitology to me when I was at UCSB and accompanied both Roland Cooper and me on biological field expeditions back in the day.) As E. californiensis illustrates,manipulation of behavior and host physiology has been documented in a variety of animal species.
Standing on a promontory, Kevin Lafferty, a marine biologist at the University of California at Santa Barbara, watches the teeming scene and sees another, more compelling drama.
For him, the real drama of the marsh lies beneath the surface in the life of its invisible inhabitants: the parasites. A curlew grabs a clam from its hole. "Just got infected," Lafferty says. He looks at the bank of snails. "More than 40 percent of these snails are infected," he pronounces. At the Carpinteria salt marsh, Kevin Lafferty has been exploring how parasites may shape an entire region's ecology. In a series of exacting experiments, he has found that a single species of fluke--Euhaplorchis californiensis--journeys through three hosts and plays a critical role in orchestrating the marsh's balance of nature. In his research, Lafferty set out to answer one main question: Would Carpinteria look me same if there were no flukes? He began by examining the snail stage of the cycle. The relationship between fluke and snail is not like the one between predator and prey. In a genetic sense, infected snails are dead, because they can no longer reproduce. But they live on, grazing on algae to feed the flukes inside them. That puts them in direct competition with the marsh's uninfected snails. To see how the contest plays out, Lafferty put healthy and fluke-infested snails in separate mesh cages at sites around the marsh. "The tops were open so the sun could shine through and algae could grow on the bottom," says Lafferty. What he found was that the uninfected snails grew faster, released far more eggs, and could thrive in far more crowded conditions. The implication: In nature, the parasites were competing so intensely that the healthy snails couldn't reproduce fast enough to take full advantage of the salt marsh. In fact, if flukes were absent from the marsh, the snail population would nearly double. That explosion would ripple out through much of the salt marsh ecosystem, thinning out the carpet of algae and making it easier for the snails' predators, such as crabs, to thrive. Lafferty then studied the killifish. Initially, he found little evidence that flukes harmed or changed the fish they colonized; the fish didn't even mount an immune response. But Lafferty was suspicious. He figured that flukes Lafferty and Morris followed up with a marsh experiment in which they set up two pens, each filled with 53 uninfected killifish and 95 infected fish. After birds had visited the pen for three weeks, Lafferty and Morris added up how many fish were alive. (The covered pen acted as a control for the researchers to see how many fish died of natural causes.) The results were startling: The birds were 30 times more likely to feast on one of the flailing, parasitized fish than on a healthy fish. The fluke that Lafferty studied is but one parasite, living in one salt marsh.
Kevin Lafferty of the University of California, Santa Barbara, has done some highly controversial work suggesting that certain cultural personality traits such as neuroticism may be correlated with levels of Toxoplasma gondii