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David Lewis co-authors study on the importance of geographically isolated wetlands as biogeochemical reactors on the landscape
Wetlands provide many essential ecosystem services, including sediment and carbon retention, nutrient transformation, water quality improvement and replenishment of the aquifer. Geographically isolated wetlands (GIWs) receive fewer legal protections than other wetlands because of their isolation from judicial waters. Authors John Marton, (Indiana Univ., Bloomington, IN), Irena Creed, (Western Univ., Ontario, CN), David Lewis, (USF Integrative Biology), Charles Lane, (U. S. E. P. A., Cincinnati, OH), Nandita Basu, (Univ. of Waterloo, Ontario, CN), Matthew Cohen, (Univ. of Florida, Gainesville, FL), and Christopher Craft, (Indiana Univ., Bloomington, IN) examined controls on biogeochemical functions that influence water quality, and estimated changes in ecosystem service delivery that would occur if these landscape features were lost following recent US Supreme Court decisions (i.e., Rapanos, SWANCC). Read about their study here
David Civitello is awarded a 3 year NIH Ruth L. Kirschstein National Research Service Award to study Schistosoma infectivity
Diseases caused by flatworms in the genus Schistosoma are responsible for 200,000 deaths annually, and the worms infect approximately 200 million people worldwide, causing disease second only to malaria in economic impact. David Civitello, USF Integrative Biology postdoctoral researcher, working in the Rohr lab, has been awarded a Ruth L. Kirschstein National Research Service Award to study the human parasite Schistosoma mansoni. This parasite cycles between humans and snails (Biomphalaria spp.). David plans on building and testing new theory to predict the production of Schistosoma cercariae (the free-living, infectious stage of the parasite) by monitoring the dynamics of the snail population. Read more about his work here.
Jason Rohr, David Civitello and Neal Halstead co-author paper on predator diversity, intraguild predation and the indirect effects of parasite transmission
In the last century, there has been a marked increase in infectious diseases globally. This has occurred concurrently with a decrease in biodiversity in various ecospheres. The theory of dilution effect suggests that these two phenomena may be linked, suggesting that biodiversity reduces disease risk. Authors Jason Rohr, (USF Integrative Biology), David Civitello, (USF Integrative Biology), Patrick Crumrine, (Rowan Univ., Glassboro, NJ), Neal Halstead, (USF Integrative Biology), Andrew Miller, (Univ. of Maryland, Baltimore, MD), Anna Schotthoefer, (Marshfield Clinic Research Foundation, Marshfield, WI), Carl Stenoien, (Univ. of Minnesota, St. Paul, MN), Lucinda Johnson, (Univ. of Minnesota, Duluth, MN) and Val Beasley (Pennsylvania State University, University Park, PA) explored how predator diversity shapes parasite transmission. Using an experimental model that manipulated predator (larval dragonflies and damselflies) density and diversity, non-intraguild (damselfly larva, non-IG) predators that only consume free-living cercariae (parasitic trematodes) reduced meta-cercarial infections in tadpoles, whereas intraguild (dragonfly larva, IG) predators that consume both parasites and tadpole hosts did not. Read more about their study here
IB Postdoc David Civitello publishes study on phenotypic effects of spontaneous mutations in Daphnia pulex raised in different environments
Integrative Biology Postdoctoral scholar David Civitello joined five other researchers in a study on Daphnia pulex, conducting phenotypic assays on the microcrustaceans raised in four different environments, using a set of Daphnia mutation accumulation lines to examine the context dependence of mutation. They compared the rate of accumulation of mutation in life-history traits vrs morphological traits in the different environments. Their study determined that life-history traits exhibited higher levels of mutational variability than morphological traits in Daphnia. Read more about their paper here
Eva Chase, Suzanne Young and Valerie (Jody) Harwood publish study on reservoirs of Vibrio vulnificus in Tampa Bay estuary and the Gulf of Mexico
Vibrio vulnificus occurs naturally in estuarine habitats and is readily culturable from water and oysters under warm water conditions, but infrequently at temperatures <15°C. The presence of the bacteria in habitats such as sediments and aquatic vegetation has not been extensively studied. Authors Eva Chase, Suzanne Young and Valerie (Jody) Harwood, (USF Integrative Biology) investigated the ecology of V. vulnificus in water by culture and quantitative PCR (qPCR), and in sediment, oysters, and aquatic vegetation by culture. They report on the effects of both temperature and salinity on the recovery of culturable bacteria from different habitat. Read about their findings here
Integrative Biology Graduate Student Samuel Wright interviewed for special edition of the Plant Conservation newsletter
In the summer of 2013, a group of five journalism students from the University of Missouri accompanied their professor on a tour of the state of Florida, from the Keys to the panhandle, to interview botanists, scientists and conservation workers dealing with the state's imperiled native plant population. Among the people interviewed for their publication was USF Integrative Biology's Master's Degree candidate Samuel Wright. At the time of the interview, Sam worked at the Fairchild Botanical Gardens in Coral Gables, Florida, studying the endangered beach clustervine (Jacquemontia reclinata). Find out more about Sam's work and the recently published newsletter here
Mariano Alvarez and Christina Richards coauthor paper reviewing 10 years of transcriptomics studies in wild populations
The interaction between organisms and their environment is one of the central focuses in the study of ecology. Examination of physical traits and behavior play a part in these studies. In the past decade, the use of molecular techniques has come into play in examining genomes and comparing changes in genetic code in response to the environment. Authors Mariano Alvarez, (USF Integrative Biology), Aaron Schrey, (former USF IB postdoctoral scholar, now Dept. of Biology, Armstrong State Univ., Savannah, GA) and Christina Richards, (USF Integrative Biology) found that in the last 10 years, 575 studies used microarrays or RNAseq in ecology. They noted in their review paper that these studies fell into three broad categories of study. In their paper, they discuss technical aspects of RNAseq and microarray technology, and a framework that leverages the advantages of both and highlight future directions of research, particularly related to moving beyond correlation and the development of additional annotation resources. Read more about their paper here
Gordon Fox edits and coauthors book on statistics for ecologists
The application and interpretation of statistics are essential in the study of ecology. Ecologists are now asking more sophisticated questions about how climate, natural resources and life on earth interact. In a book inspired by after dinner conversations at a course on statistics for graduate students, Gordon Fox, (USF Integrative Biology) joined Simoneta Negrete-Yankelevich, and Vinicio J. Sosa (both Instituto de Ecología A. C., Mexico) in putting together Ecological Statistics: Contemporary Theory and Application, a book aimed specifically at the needs of modern ecologists and scientists in related environmental science fields. They join eight other authors, including USF Integrative Biology's Earl McCoy and Marc Lajeunesse, to explain and illustrate that if ecologists learn the concepts enabling them to understand the overarching themes of statistics, they will be able to properly select the powerful tools to collect analyze and interpret their data. The 13 chapter, 400 page book is published by Oxford University Press, and will be available later in February 2015.
Gordon Fox publishes paper on differential impact of seasonal climate change on co-occurring species of trees
Co-occurring species of plants may have differing growth responses to the seasonal timing of climatic events. In a study, authors Tammy Foster, (USF IB graduate, PhD, 2014, now InoMedic Health Applications, Kennedy Space Center, Merritt Island FL), Paul Schmalzer, (InoMedic Health Applications, Kennedy Space Center, Merritt Island FL) and Gordon Fox used dendrochronology to examine the importance of seasonal climate on radial stem growth of three co-occurring species in Florida scrub, myrtle oak (Quercus myrtifolia), Chapman oak (Quercus chapmanii), and south Florida slash pine (Pinus elliottii Engelmann var. densa). The different species each responded quite differently to the observed changes in seasonal moisture availability. The authors interpreted this in terms of the differences in timing of when each species undergoes growth. Read about their findings here
Emeritus Associate Professor Frederick Essig writes book on plant life
Emeritus Associate Professor Frederick Essig recently wrote a book titled Plant Life, A Brief History, published by Oxford University Press. The 280 page book is available now in the States, and in the U. K. in April, 2015. In the 9 chapters of the book, Dr. Essig moves from the origins of photosynthesis to eukaryotic plant life, plant life developing on land, the development of vascular plants and trees, seeds and gymnosperms, and moves through pollination, seed dispersal, dicots and monocots. His book is written as a chronological narrative of plant origin, development and diversification. The book contains an abundance of illustrations, with accurate, clear and life-like botanical line drawings. A more detailed description of the book can be found on the Oxford Press website , where the book can be ordered.
Leah Johnson authors study on temperature dependence of malaria transmission
Malaria is a vector-borne disease that infects millions and kills hundreds of thousands of people annually, especially prevalent in developing countries. The dynamics of the spread of the disease are greatly affected by environmental factors such as temperature and rainfall. As climate changes with time, the distribution of malaria will also change. Authors Leah Johnson, (USF Integrative Biology), Tal Ben-Horin, (Univ. of California, Santa Barbara, CA), Kevin Lafferty, (Univ. of California, Santa Barbara, CA), Amy McNally, (Univ. of California, Santa Barbara, CA), Erin Mordecai, (Univ. of California, Santa Barbara, CA), Krijn Paaijmans, (Universitat de Barcelona, Barcelona, ES), Samraat Pawar, (Univ. of Chicago, Chicago, IL), and Sadie Ryan, (State Univ. of New York, Syracuse, NY) conducted a study of the measure of transmission, R0, to show how a Bayesian approach can help identify critical uncertainties in components of R0 and how this uncertainty is propagated into the estimate of R0. They examined the effect of temperature regimes on bite rates, fecundity, mortality and parasite development rate, all key factors in the spread of the disease. Read about their findings here
Christina Richards publishes study on environmentally induced phenotypic plasticity and epigenetic expression observed in an Alpine herb
Christina Richards joined researchers from Armstrong University in Georgia, from Australia and the Netherlands in an investigation of the effects of variation of temperature and elevation on the seedling emergence, growth rate, plant size (height, rosette diameter, leaf number), time to produce flowers and capsules in a small Alpine herb, the waxy bluebell (Wahlenbergia ceracea). Seeds from plants at various elevations were collected and planted in greenhouses and grown at two different controlled temperatures to simulate early and summer growing seasons. Using Ampliﬁed Fragment Length Polymorphism (AFLP), they found low but signiﬁcant genetic differentiation between low- and high-elevation seedlings, and seedlings originating from low elevations grew faster and showed stronger temperature responses (more plasticity) than those from medium and high elevations. Although the authors did not ﬁnd signiﬁcant direct correlations between MS-AFLP loci and phenotypes, their results demonstrated that adaptive plasticity in temperature response to warming varied over ﬁne spatial scales and suggests the involvement of epigenetic mechanisms in this response. Read more about their study here
Jason Rohr joins former Integrative Biology graduate Brittany Sears in study of host life-history and host-parasite syntopy predicting resistance and tolerance of parasites
There is a growing interest in research into life history traits such as the pace of life of hosts and how the overlap of territories of hosts and parasites (syntopy) play a role in the development of resistance and tolerance to parasites. Jason Rohr recently conducted a study along with Brittany Sears (USF IB graduate, PhD, 2013), and Paul Snyder, (former USF IB postdoctoral scholar, now Univ. of Georgia, Athens, GA.), in the host life-history and host-parasite syntopy of 7 species of tadpoles, predicting resistance and tolerance of the tadpoles to Plagiorchiidae cercarae parasites. Their study found that all 7 species of tadpoles exhibit anti-cercarial behavior, which increased with increased parasite exposure. Fast-paced tadpole species exhibited strong behavioral resistance to infection, while slow-paced species exhibited tolerance to infection. Read more about their study here
Leah Johnson co-authors study on current and future approaches of mapping the distribution of malaria
Malaria is a major source of morbidity and mortality through much of the developing world, affecting an estimated 219 million people in 2010, resulting in 660,000 deaths. About 90 percent of those affected live in sub-Saharan Africa. Accurate prediction of transmission risk through modeling is a key public health goal that is complicated by environmental and socioeconomic factors, compounded by political unrest in the region. Authors Leah Johnson, (USF Integrative Biology), Kevin Lafferty, (Univ. of California, Santa Barbara, CA), Amy McNally, (Univ. of California, Santa Barbara, CA), Erin Mordecai, (Univ. of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, NC), Krijn Paaijmans, (CRESIB, Hospital Clinic-Universitat de Barcelona, Barcelona, ES), Samraat Pawar, (Imperial College London, UK), and Sadie Ryan, (State Univ. of New York, Syracuse, NY) conducted a study titled "Mapping the distribution of malaria: current approaches and future directions" on the subject, published in the book Analyzing and Modeling Spatial and Temporal Dynamics of Infectious Diseases. Their study discusses various types of data necessary in constructing models of malaria transmission and approaches in constructing the models. Read about their study here
Chantale Bégin joins researchers from Eckerd College and Simon Fraser University in study of increased sediment loads over coral reefs in Saint Lucia
Increased sedimentation of Caribbean coral reefs has been widely acknowledged as an important stressor to the coral communities. For most of the reef locations, accurate records of changes of rate of sediment accumulation and change of land use are lacking. Authors Chantale Bégin, (USF Integrative Biology), Gregg Brooks, (Eckerd College, St. Petersburg, FL), Rebekka Larson, (Eckerd College, St. Petersburg, FL), Suzana Dragićević, (Simon Fraser Univ., Burnaby, BC, CN), Carlos Ramos Scharrón, (Univ. of Texas, Austin, TX), and Isabelle Côté, (Simon Fraser Univ., Burnaby, BC, CN) address this gap by conducting a quantitative study of these processes for two watersheds in the island of Saint Lucia in the West Indies. They used sediment cores collected near downstream coral reefs to examine changes in sediment composition and accumulation rate over the past several decades and relied upon a GIS-based sediment budget model to estimate recent sediment yields in the two focal watersheds and determine the likely source of increased sedimentation. Read about the findings of their study here
Biology students gain varied experiences on field trips from 2014 Fish Biology class
On September 18, Dr. Philip Motta and his Fish Biology class took a field trip to Fort DeSoto Beach, where they observed a fisherman catch a 5 foot long blacktip shark. The class students were able to assist the fisherman in successfully reviving and releasing the shark back into the Gulf waters. The Fish Biology class is offered every fall in the Department of Integrative Biology. See more photos from Dr. Motta and the Fish Biology Class lab field trips of 2014 here.
Julie Schwartz, Nick Curtis and Sidney Pierce find evidence of algal gene transferred to sea slug chromosome
Some varieties of sea slugs are capable of kleptoplasty, digesting algae and incorporating algae chloroplasts in their cytoplasm. These slugs go on to use the chloroplasts to conduct photosynthesis as a source of energy for the animals. In order to maintain the chloroplasts over a period of months in their cytoplasm, it has been found that the slugs must also synthesizing proteins to maintain the chloroplasts. Authors Julie Schwartz, (USF Integrative Biology), Nicholas Curtis, (USF IB graduate, PhD, 2006, now Ave Maria Univ., Ave Maria, FL), and Sidney (Skip) Pierce, (USF Integrative Biology) used ﬂuorescent in situ hybridization to localize an algal nuclear gene, prk, found in both larval and adult slug DNA by PCR and in adult RNA by transcriptome sequencing and RT-PCR. The prk probe hybridized with a metaphase chromosome in slug larvae, conﬁrming gene transfer between alga and slug. Read about their discovery here.
Valerie (Jody) Harwood joined researchers from CSIRO in Australia in evaluating three water sampling methods for pathogenic virus
Obtaining meaningful statistical measurements of the concentration of pathogenic viruses in environmental waters has been a historically difficult task due to their low concentration in water and uneven distribution in human populations. Filtration of large volumes of water (in the order of 100 liters) in the field is often impractical, and samples may not survive transport to a lab for analysis. Methods are under development of concentrating small (1-2 liter) volumes of water for analysis using membranes, but few comparisons have been conducted of the methods. Authors Warish Ahmed, (CSIRO Land and Water, Queensland, Australia), Valerie (Jody) Harwood, (USF Integrative Biology), Pradip Gyawali, (CSIRO Land and Water, Queensland, Australia), Jatilander Sidhu, (CSIRO Land and Water, Queensland, Australia), and Simon Toze, (CSIRO Land and Water, Queensland, Australia), compared the efficiency of virus recovery for three rapid methods of concentrating two microbial source tracking (MST) viral markers human adenoviruses (HAdVs) and polyomaviruses (HPyVs) from one liter tap water and river water samples on HA membranes (90 mm diameter). Read about their findings here.
Neal Halstead and Jason Rohr publish paper on effects of temperature and humidity variability on fungal infection in red-spotted newts
Neal Halstead and Jason Rohr (USF Integrative Biology) joined researchers from three other Universities in a study of the effects of temperature and moisture variability on the rate of Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis (Bd) growth on red-spotted newts (Notophthalmus viridescens). Climate change is being observed in regions around the globe. A recent study confirmed that increased temperature variability could exacerbate disease progression because of lags in the ability of the disease host to acclimate to the temperature changes. Using chytridiomycosis in red-spotted newts as the experimental model, the team of researchers exposed the newts to varying temperatures and levels of humidity and observed disease progression. Read about their climate change study here.
Lynn (Marty) Martin joins 14 authors in international study of genetic variation of avian malaria pathogen Plasmodium relictum
The genetic variation of a pathogen is essential information in studies of pathogen populations and how pathogens are distributed across geographic areas. Genetic variation provides key insight into parasite epidemiology, local patterns of virulence and the development of host-resistance, as well as identifying populations of pathogens that are genetically independent from each other, and "free" to adapt to new hosts and environments. Author Lynn (Marty) Martin joined 14 other investigators from 8 countries in an international investigation of the genetic variations of the globally distributed, highly invasive avian malaria parasite Plasmodium relictum. Their research demonstrates genetic independence between strains from Africa and temperate regions of Europe and Asia, as well as differences in parasites from the Hawaiian Islands. Read about their interesting findings here.
Jason Rohr publishes study on the effects of zooplankton and phytoplankton on tadpole growth in the presence of a pathogenic fungus
Free-living stages of parasites are consumed by a variety of predators. This may have important consequences for predators, parasites and hosts. Jason Rohr, (USF Integrative Biology) joined Julia Buck, (Oregon State Univ., Corvallis, OR), Katharina Scholz, (Univ. of Hohenheim, Stutgart, DE), and Andrew Blaustein, (Oregon State Univ., Corvallis, OR) to investigate such a relationship, using Cascades frog (Rana cascadae) tadpoles, zooplankton, and the amphibian chytrid fungus Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis (Bd) in a manmade environment in outdoor mesocosms. They measured the growth, development, survival and infection of the tadpoles as well as monitored the abundance of zooplankton, phytoplankton and periphyton in the holding tanks weekly. Read about their findings here.
Lynn (Marty) Martin, Andrea Liebl and Holly Kilvitis study whether and how covariation in gene expression affecting regulation of inflammation may have impacted house sparrow colonization of Kenya
The enemy release hypothesis (ERH) proposes that hosts encounter fewer infectious parasites in new areas of range than in established range, allowing the newcomers to adjust their immune system most effectively to allocate resources to thrive in the new environment and even expand their range. The immune response of inflammation is an important aspect of vertebrate immune defense, providing rapid defense against parasites. Authors Lynn (Marty) Martin, (USF Integrative Biology), Andrea Liebl, (USF IB graduate, PhD, 2013, now University of Exeter, Cornwall, UK), and Holly Kilvitis, (USF Integrative Biology) conducted a study investigating whether and how covariation in the expression of genes affecting the regulation of inflammation have impacted the ability of house sparrows (Passer domesticus) to invade and colonize Kenya, Africa. Read more about their study here.
Amber Brace, Sam Sheikali and Lynn (Marty) Martin publish study on sex-related differences in immune response in brown anoles (Anolis sagrei)
Amber Brace, Sam Sheikali and Lynn (Marty) Martin, (USF Integrative Biology), conducted a study on sex-related differences in immune response. Using the brown anole (Anolis sagrei) as their study subject, they challenged the anoles with varying doses of Salmonella lipopolysaccharide (LPS) and observed the induced immune responses. Their study tracked the exposure-dependent cost to the lizards by tracking the allocation of isotopically (carbon-13) labeled leucine (an essential amino acid) in the animals. Their study found both dose-dependent and sex-related differences in the immune responses of the animals. Read more about their study here.
Maria Laura Habegger and Stephen Hesterberg receive 2014 Mushinsky Graduate Student Research Awards
Maria Laura Habegger, Ph. D. and Stephen Hesterberg, Master's degree candidate (Bell lab), graduate students in Integrative Biology, were awarded 2014 Mushinsky Graduate Student Research Award. This award, to be given annually to one PhD and one MS student, recognizes the research productivity and creativity of USF IB graduate students. A student can win an award only once, but a student can apply at any time and as many times as s/he would like during her or his USF IB career. Laura recently graduated from the Department. Her work focused on top marine predators, shark scale morphology and whale shark feeding behavior. Stephen is pursuing his Master's degree, with studies investigating the interaction between predator-prey dynamics and habitat complexity in oyster reef habitat. He has also participated in studying the predatory gastropod the King helmet (a shellfish valued for its large shell) and is participating in isotope studies of oysters in shell middens at Crystal River, Florida. Read more about their story here.
David Lewis studies soil nutrient retention in young and old-growth forests
Using heavy nitrogen (N (15)) as a tracer for soil retention studies, David Lewis, (USF Integrative Biology) joined researchers Michael Castellano, (Iowa State Univ., Ames, Iowa) and Jason Kaye, (Penn State Univ., University Park, PA) to investigate nitrogen storage in young and old growth forests. The study found that mature forests stored nitrogen quickly and more efficiently in their soil bed and released it slowly due to the buildup of organic matter on the forest floor. Young forests lacked such organic matter and the capacity to retain nitrogen. Read more about their interesting findings here.
Henry Mushinsky and Earl McCoy write editorial on recent advances in reptile translocations
Translocation of endangered species are occurring at ever-increasing rates, including reintroduction, reinforcement and ecological replacement with assisted colonization. Authors Henry Mushinsky and Earl McCoy, (USF Integrative Biology) joined authors Jennifer Germano, (Institute for Conservation Research, San Diego Zoo Global, Escondido, CA), John Ewen, (Institute of Zoology, Zoological Society of London, London, UK) and Luis Ortiz-Catedral, (Massey Univ., Auckland, NZ) in writing an editorial titled "Moving toward greater success in translocations: recent advances from the herpetofauna." In the editorial, the authors discussed past attempts at relocation and repopulation, current examples of studies and needs for future work, as well as reviewed articles covered in the publication accompanying their editorial. Read their editorial and the research articles in the special issue on recent advances in relocating herpetofauna here.
Jason Rohr discovers neonicotinoid insecticide disrupts biological control of non-target pests, decreasing soya bean yield
Jason Rohr (USF Integrative Biology) conducted a study along with Margaret Douglas, (Dept of Entomology, Penn State Univ., University Park, PA), and John Tooker, (Dept of Entomology, Penn State Univ., University Park, PA), of the inﬂuence of the neonicotinoid thiamethoxam, applied as a coating to soya bean seeds, on interactions among the beans, non-target molluscan herbivores and their insect predators. Working both in the laboratory and in the field, the authors examined the susceptibility of the pest grey garden slug Deroceras reticulatum to the insecticide. Their study showed the snails resistant to the chemical. However, the snails retained and concentrated the chemical in their bodies and transmitted the toxin at levels high enough to impair or kill ground-dwelling predaceous beetles, thus reducing the number of natural predators of the garden slugs, affecting crop yield. The implications of this discovery need to be considered in the application of insecticides in farming environments. Read more about their findings here.
Lynn (Marty) Martin co-authors and edits book on Integrative Organismal Biology
Lynn (Marty) Martin (USF Integrative Biology) joined 34 other authors in writing a new book, titled Integrative Organismal Biology. He, Cameron Ghalambor (Colorado State Univ, Ft. Collins, CO ), and Art Woods (Univ of Montana, Missoula, MT) are the book editors. The 344 page book discusses the causes and consequences of individual variation at the physiological, behavioral and organismal levels in biology, covering key topics such as phenotypic plasticity and flexibility, summarizing emerging areas of research such as ecological immunology and oxidative stress biology. The 19 chapter book concludes with a series of case studies illustrating concepts discussed in the book. Read more about their book here.
Earl McCoy, Adam Emerick and Henry Mushinsky join to study the conditions necessary to successfully relocate an environmentally threatened Florida lizard
Earl McCoy, Adam Emerick and Henry Mushinsky joined USF Integrative Biology alumni Nicholas Osman and Bradley Hauch in a study investigating the conditions necessary to successfully relocate a large population of Florida sand skink, Plestiodon reynoldsi Stejneger, from a site slated for mining to an apparently suitable, but unoccupied site. Florida sand skink are listed as environmentally threatened lizards, and the conditions for the successful relocation of these lizards were not known. An experimental plot meeting general conditions for relocation was identified and environmental conditions within the plot were varied within enclosures to tease out the conditions that promote successful relocation. Read about the results of their study here.
David Lewis and Sharon Feit investigate whether groundwater abstraction for urban water supply diminishes carbon, nitrogen and organic matter in rural wetland soils
As the population of the state of Florida continues to increase, urban areas throughout the state are relying on wellfields to supply increased demands for potable water. Authors David Lewis (USF Integrative Biology) and Sharon Feit (USF IB graduate, MS, 2012), investigated whether groundwater abstraction for urban water supply diminished the storage of carbon, nitrogen and organic matter in the soil of rural wetlands. The accumulation of wetland soil organic matter depends on the period of soil inundation. For this study, they investigated forested swamps and herbaceous-vegetation marshes in the area of the Tampa Bay metropolis in west-central Florida examining changes in nutrient accumulation as a result of change in surface water retention at various locations, and comparing nutrient levels with water retention data for the areas. Read about their findings here.
Taegan McMahon and Jason Rohr join to study infection patterns of chytrid fungus Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis (Bd) on developing frogs
The chytrid fungus, Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis (Bd), has been implicated in worldwide amphibian declines. Research has shown that the fungus preferentially infects keratinized areas of the skin of amphibians, which transitions in tadpoles from their mouthparts to their hindlimbs during metamorphosis. Scientists have lacked evidence of the consistency in timing of this transition of keratinization between species of frogs and the relationship of Bd infection of the related keratinized zones. Taegan McMahon (USF IB graduate, PhD, 2014, now Department of Biology, University of Tampa, Tampa, FL) and Jason Rohr (USF Integrative Biology) studied two frog species from different geographic regions during metamorphosis and development of limbs, investigating both the timing of changes in keratin location in the tadpoles and timing of infection of different body parts of the tadpoles with Bd. Read about their study here.
Sidney (Skip) Pierce interviewed by Martha's Vineyard Gazette about his sea slug research
Integrative Biology Professor Emeritus Sidney (Skip) Pierce, was featured in an interview in the Martha's Vineyard Gazette, covering the background story behind how he became involved in research on Elysia chlorotica and other photosynthetic sea slugs. Many are familiar with the work of Skip and his graduate students on these amazing animals that eat algae and incorporate algae chloroplasts into their cytoplasm to conduct photosynthesis. Read about what prompted the research work on these slugs here.
Sarah Knutie honored by having a new species named after her
Sarah Knutie, post-doctoral researcher in the Department of Integrative Biology, was honored recently by having a newly discovered species of biting bird louse named after her. The louse species was discovered by researchers from the University of Utah while studying Macgregor's bowerbirds in New Guinea. Read more about the discovery here.
Leah Johnson awarded 3 year National Science Foundation (NSF) grant to study how bioenergetics and foraging determine population dynamics in Antarctic albatrosses
Antarctic albatross are long-lived predatory birds of the open ocean. Of 22 recognized species of albatross, 17 are listed as vulnerable, endangered or critically endangered. Leah Johnson was recently awarded a National Science Foundation (NSF) Division of Polar Programs grant to study how bioenergetics and foraging affect population dynamics among the different albatross species. Joining her in the study will be Philipp Boersch-Supan, (USF Integrative Biology), Sadie Ryan (Univ of Florida) and Richard Phillips (British Antarctic Survey). They will create computer models that simulate the foraging movements of individual birds while keeping track of their energy reserves and will undertake an in-depth meta-analysis of existing individual tracking and life history data from multiple albatross species across successive life stages and construct, parameterize, and validate a suite of modular computer models that simulate different aspects of albatross physiology and behavior. Read more about their upcoming work here.
Bina Nayak and Valerie (Jody) Harwood join to take a look at extra-intestinal growth of Bacteriodales bacteria in the environment originating from poultry litter, a potential MST bacteria.
Bina Nayak and Valerie (Jody) Harwood joined two researchers from the University of West Virginia to study the accuracy of using quantitative polymerase chain reaction assays (qPCR) to determine Bacteriodales fecal bacteria contamination from poultry litter runoff in the environment. Bacteriodales are found in more abundance in animal feces than E. coli, and it has been reported that their survival in extra-intestinal environments is limited. The research team studied dispersal of Bacteroidales from poultry litter in both a laboratory and river environment. Their studies show that microbial source tracking (MST) using Bacteriodales is feasible, but that caution should be used when interpreting qPCR results targeting Bacteriodales in watersheds likely impacted by poultry litter. Read about their study here.
Gordon Fox conducts study on the strength of assortative mating for flowering date and its basis in individual variation in flowering schedule
When individuals within a population tend to mate with those most similar to them (called assortative mating), it increases the amount of genetic variation in the population. In turn, that affects how quickly the population can change genetically in response to climate or other environmental change. In a study of 31 native plant species in Ontario, Canada, Gordon Fox joined two Canadian researchers in quantifying the amount of assortative mating for flowering schedules. Although reproductive timing is widely thought of as an example of a trait subject to assortative mating, this is the first such study published for natural plant populations. Some populations had very strong assortative mating, while others had less. Climate change is expected to increase the length of the reproductive season for spring-flowering species more than for summer-flowering species, but there was no difference detected in the amount of assortative mating between these species. Read more about their study here.
Jason Rohr joins group of national scientists in addressing shortcomings in USEPA pesticide risk assessment process
In 1964 approximately 245 million kilograms (539 million pounds) of active ingredients of pesticides were applied in the United States, a time shortly after the writing of Rachel Carson's book Silent Spring. By 1998, this value had climbed to and leveled off at approximately 500 million kilograms (1.1 billion pounds) active ingredients, about 1.5kg (3.3 pounds) active ingredients per U. S. citizen today. Although pesticides are applied in particular locations, runoff and atmospheric drift carries them into the aquifer, and movement through our food chain distributes them widely, threatening our health and the environment. The U. S. Environmental Protection Agency (USEPA) has been tasked with monitoring and regulating the use of pesticides in our country and with mitigation in their misuse. The USEPA's methods of risk assessment have come into question over the years, and have, many times, been found inadequate. Jason Rohr joined a group of U. S. scientists in evaluating current risk assessment practices. They propose a uniform system to improve this process. Read their evaluation of the current system and recommendations for improvement in their publication here.
Laura Habegger and Philip Motta co-author a paper on non-osteocyte bone remodeling in billfish bills
Mammalian bone is constructed and repaired by cells called osteocytes, producing bone that can bear load and stress. The bone of fish is lacking these cells and osteocytic bone structure, giving fish bone a lamellar sheet-like structure, similar to tree rings, with flexibility, unable to handle the stress that mammalian bone can bear. An exception to this statement is the bone found in the bills (rostra) of billfish, which has a striking resemblance to the long bones of mammals. Billfish rostra contain overlapping osteons, lamellated tubular structures with central canals in the bone that help the bone to bear greater strain and deformation before failure. While these bones have central canals similar to the Haversian canals of mammalian bone, there are no lacunae or osteocytes present in the bone. Authors Laura Habegger and Philip Motta join an international group of scientists in a study of this unique bone structure of these top marine predator fish. Read more about their interesting study here.
Thomas Crisman publishes study on headwater streams of Florida to develop a framework for water conservation
Florida is a state of abundant freshwater resources. Using a geographic information system and topographic maps, authors W. R. White (Department of Environmental Engineering Sciences, Univ of Florida, Gainesville, FL) and Thomas Crisman (USF Integrative Biology) surveyed 5,829 headwater streams in Florida, studying their elevation, stream length, flow regime, surrounding geology and vegetation to develop a framework for water conservation. Their survey assigned each headwater to one of four types: wetland, seep, lake or spring. Twenty-six rivers traverse the state, and were separated into four groups through cluster analysis of drainage density. Their study concludes that stream conservation efforts should focus on both highly complex dendritic river networks in the State's panhandle and on the more arid central portion of the State, an area that may become, in their words, "a signiﬁcant dispersal bottleneck for aquatic biota seeking refuge farther north from projected climate change." Read more about their study here.
Sarah Knutie publishes paper on potential of Darwin's finches to use insecticide-treated cotton to self-fumigate infested nests
Territorial isolation renders many species particularly vulnerable to introduced parasites to which the native hosts have developed no means of defense. The invading parasites can decimate native populations. The Galápagos Islands present such an environment, and the larvae of the parasitic nest fly Philornis dowsi, which feed on nestlings of finch on the island, is one of the introduced parasites. In some years, nests at a given location on the islands can fail at 100% due to infestations from this fly. In a study on the possibility that finches on the islands could be encouraged to carry out a self-fumigation campaign in their nests, authors Sarah Knutie (USF Integrative Biology), Sabrina McNew (Department of Biology, Univ of Utah, Salt Lake City, UT) and Andrew Bartlow (Facultad de Biosciencias, Univ. Autonoma de Barcelona, Barcelona, Spain) treated cotton fibers with permethrin insecticide (with cotton fibers treated with water as a control group), offered the fibers to island finches, then studied the results. They found that the finches took the cotton to their nests, and nests fumigated with permethrin had significantly fewer parasites and fledged more offspring than nests treated with water, presenting a potential method to provide for parasite control in bird nests on the island. Read about their interesting study here.
Elizabeth Roznik, Post-doc in Integrative Biology, co-authors a paper on the effects of microenvironments on the growth of chytrid fungus Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis (Bd) on three frog species in Australia
Understanding the relationship between environmental factors and pathogen growth is an important factor in determining the ecological drivers of disease outbreaks, as is seen in the current Ebola outbreak in Africa. In a study of microenvironments and their effects on fungal growth and disease progression on three species of Australian frogs, authors Lisa Stevenson (School of Marine and Tropical Biology, James Cook Univ, Townsville, Queensland, AU), Elizabeth Roznik (USF Integrative Biology), Ross Alford (School of Marine and Tropical Biology, James Cook Univ, Townsville, Queensland, AU) and David Pike (School of Marine and Tropical Biology, James Cook Univ, Townsville, Queensland, AU) determined whether the average natural thermal regimes experienced by sympatric frog species in nature, in and of themselves, can account for differences in vulnerability to disease. Using the chytrid fungus Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis (Bd) infection as the disease model, the authors measured growth rates of fungal cultures grown under temperatures mimicking those experienced by wild frogs, and drew conclusions on how species-specific thermoregulatory behaviors influence disease progression. Read about their findings here.
Lynn (Marty) Martin co-authors paper on how the life history and demographics of small mammals affect the spread of tick-borne diseases in eastern North America
In a study on the variables involved in a species acting as a host reservoir to a pathogen, Lynn (Marty) Martin joined four other researchers to study the relationship between the life history and demographics of nine small eastern North American mammals which carry tick-borne diseases. This group of small mammals, including small rodents (such as eastern chipmunks and white-footed mice), and shrews, are among the most competent natural reservoirs for three tick-borne zoonotic pathogens, Borrelia burgdorferi, causing Lyme disease, Babesia microti, causing a malaria-like infection, and Anaplasma phagocytophilum, causing a bacterial infection of white blood cells. Their study found support for the hypothesis that the most competent wildlife reservoirs for the three pathogens were hosts that occurred in high population densities and had fast life histories compared to the other types of animals in the study. Read about their findings here.
Kathleen (KT) Scott was interviewed for a program on the science blogspot A Pint of Science
Few people have the adventure of diving into the depths of the ocean and actually observing the marine life at hydrothermal vents on the ocean floor. Kathleen (KT) Scott is one of those people who have had that opportunity. In her studies at USF, KT specializes in the study of deep sea bacteria and their methods of adaptation to the harsh environment that they live in. A Pint of Science, an internationally syndicated Internet blog, interviewed KT about her fascinating work, and the remarkable life forms that she studies. Listen to her interview as she describes the fascinating world of bacteria and read more about her story here.
Leah Johnson joins a group of authors in a study on experimental evolutionary changes in Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis and how these changes may affect virulence
Virulence of infectious pathogens can be unstable and evolve rapidly depending on the evolutionary dynamics of the organism. Experimental evolution can be used to characterize pathogen evolution, often with the underlying objective of understanding evolution of virulence. Using culture passages changes of the chytrid fungus Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis (Bd) as an experimental model, Leah Johnson and eight coauthors investigated changes in virulence expressed in the fungus as a function of lineage passage time. Starting with a single frozen stock, and allowing one line to pass 10 times and another 50 times, virulence and sporing capability were tested in vitro and the ability to infect a green tree frog host was tested for both experimental groups. Read more about their study here.
Thomas L. Crisman has been awarded a Jefferson Science Fellowship in the Department of State in Washington, D. C.
Thomas L. Crisman, professor in USF Integrative Biology, has been awarded a Jefferson Science Fellowship (JSF) in the Department of State in Washington, D. C., where he will serve as senior advisor on global water issues in the Office of Conservation and Water in the Bureau of Oceans and International Environmental and Scientific Affairs. The JSF program complements and enhances the existing efforts by the permanent staff within the U.S. Department of State/USAID. Following the initial fellowship year, the Jefferson Science Fellow will return to his/her academic career, but will remain available to the U.S. Department of State/USAID for short-term projects over the subsequent five years. Read more about Tom, the JSF fellowship, and his research here.
Stephen Deban co-authors paper on how temperature affects whole-organism performance, motor control and muscle contractile physiology in ballistic feeding in the salamander Eurycea guttolineata
Temperature strongly affects muscle contractile rate properties and thus may influence whole-organism performance. Movements powered by elastic recoil, however, are not affected by temperature as much as muscle-powered movements are. Authors Christopher Anderson (USF IB graduate, PhD, 2013, now Brown University, Providence, RI), Nicholas Larghi (USF IB graduate, MS, 2013, now Florida Southern College, Lakeland, FL), and Stephen Deban (USF Integrative Biology) examined the whole-organism performance, motor control and muscle contractile physiology underlying feeding in the salamander Eurycea guttolineata. They compared elastically powered tongue projection to the associated muscle-powered retraction to determine the thermal robustness of each of these functional levels in the salamander over various temperature ranges. Read more about their study here.
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The IB Seminar Series will be held in CMC 147, (the Advanced Visualization Center Auditorium, in the Physics building, see LINK for a map) at 3:30 on Thursdays.