Disease Ecology and Management
Our work on host-parasite interactions fits within our more general interest in how anthropogenic environmental change and human management affect species interactions. With funding from USDA and NIH, we have focused on how management of honey bees affects host-parasite coevolution and in particular the evolution of virulence, in the context of spatial structuring of transmission.
This review lays out why we need to incorporate ecological and evolutionary considerations into the management of honey bee disease, including developing the idea that current management techniques may actually be selecting for more-virulent parasites and pathogens.
This is the first work to use population genetic approaches to understand patterns of gene flow and potentially transmission in Varroa mites, the single largest cause of honey bee colony loss worldwide.
Spatial Transmission Structure
In collaboration with Jaap De Roode (Emory), Keith Delaplane (UGA) and Mike Boots (Berkeley), and with current funding from NIH and past funding from the USDA, we are investigating the role of spatial transmission structure on the evolution of virulence in the honey bee – Varroa mite system, using both empirical experiments and modeling.