What We Study

We study interactions between species and their environment at population, community, and ecosystem levels. We use freshwater plankton to study these interactions. Plankton provide an ideal system because they interact strongly, are readily manipulated in the lab and field, reproduce quickly, and supply crucial functioning to freshwater ecosystems.

Our Research

Our research program hinges on three approaches, that combined, help us rigorously test logical, relevant ideas.

Current projects in our lab focus on:

Community ecology of Disease

We are studying the influence of infectious disease on population dynamics and community interactions. Our work focuses on the determinants of spatial and temporal dynamics of bacterial and fungal epidemics in Daphnia. This work relies on combination of community ecology, physical limnology, and epidemiological modeling. Current projects include:

  1. “Healthy Herds”: selective predation keeping the herds healthy (Duffy et al. 2005 L&O, Hall et al. 2005 Am. Nat., Hall et al. 2006 Ecology)
  2. “Eating yourself sick and sicker” interactions between hosts, parasites, and resources of hosts (Hall et al. 2007 Eco Letters, Hall et al. ICB)
  3. Spatial variability of parasitism among and between lake systems (Hall et al. 2005, Cáceres et al. 2006)
  4. “Warmer isn’t necessarily sicker” temperature and physiology as determinants of parasitism (Hall et al. 2005 Ecology)
  5. “Friendly competition”: interactions between competitors and hosts via a “dilution effect” (Hall et al. 2009 Ecology)
  6. Parasitism as a driver of selection on hosts (Duffy et al. 2008, Duffy and Hall 2008).
  7. Environmental variation - UV, temperature, algal resources
  8. Species interactions - e.g. dilution effect, friendly competition
  9. Host stage-structure and population stability

Collaborators: Carla Cáceres (Illinois), Alan Tessier (NSF), Meghan Duffy (Georgia Tech), Marianne Huebner (Michigan State), Sally MacIntyre and Robyn Smyth (UC-Santa Barbara)

Food Web Stoichiometry

We are developing and testing new theory focused around the intersection of ecological stoichiometry and food webs. The stoichiometric approach explores the consequences of mismatches in the elemental composition of grazers and plants. It also considers how supply of resources, especially nutrients and light, can set the stage for these mismatches. Most of our work examines the ability of stoichiometric models to explain:

  1. Changes in community composition of both grazers and producers
  2. Interactions between plant heterogeneity, stoichiometry, and grazers
  3. How changes in plant stoichiometry link to resource supply gradients and grazing
  4. Stoichiometry and Trophic Cascades

Collaborators: Mathew Leibold (Texas-Austin), David Lytle, (Oregon State), and Val Smith (Kansas)

We are developing and testing new theory focused around the intersection of ecological stoichiometry and food webs.

Lab Members

Current Graduate Students

Lab Wizards

Course Offerings

Undergraduate course: Invertebrate Biology (Z374)

Description: Inverts compromise > 99% of all animals on Earth and are remarkably diverse. With this almost incomprehensible diversity as a backdrop, we will consider how invertebrates have managed to solve life's major problems (surviving, growing and reproducing in benign-to-hostile environments), organized around a few simple themes and guided by evolution and comparative physiology. We will also survey diversity of major invertebrate groups.

Logistics: 3 credit lecture; MWF 11:15-12:05, JH A106

Office hours: W 2-4 pm, JH 015, and by appointment

Prerequisites: An intro biology course

Course Website
Graduate course: Theoretical Ecology, L577

Description: This course will empower students to develop and analyze their own ecology-based models.

Topics include: one- and multi-species models; solving for equilibria (attractors and repellors); characterizing equilibria using stability analysis; non-linear population dynamics: bifurcations, oscillations, alternative stable states, catastrophes, chaos; environmental variability.

Pre-requisites: Introductory statistics, calculus, and programming would be helpful, but relax, I will teach you what you need to know if you have not taken such courses.

Logistics: Mondays & Wednesdays, 1:30-2:45, Myers 140

Course Website


Ecology Lunchtime Discussion Group

The ECOLUNCH forum is meant to bring together people at the Bloomington campus who study ecology at a variety of different levels of biological organization, from genetics to populations and community ecology to ecosystems. We typically have one (or two) people present some of their current research or research ideas, with the aim of sharing ideas and results, getting feedback from the diverse group, and thinking about ecology and our research in new and broader ways. We encourage interaction among researchers of all ecological disciplines. Recent presentations have focused on molecular, population, disease and community ecology as well as ecotoxicology. We invite researchers with diverse interests to expand our breadth.

Discussion meeting times and details:

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