B.A. Ecology and Evolutionary Biology. University of Connecticut. 2003
M.S. Biology. Southern Connecticut State University. 2009
1st year PhD Student. Clark University.
My interests in research are to understand how animals cope with ever-changing habitats and stressors (Adaptation). My focus is on how trophically transmitted parasites influence and manipulate the morphology of their hosts, and how hosts phenotypically respond to infestations. I am also interested in the interaction between anthropogenic impacts, such as eutrophication and parasitism in freshwater habitats. Global climate shifts are having a profound effect on our planet’s ecosystems causing massive species extinctions and rapid habitat loss. Within small freshwater habitats, this likely means among other things, a decrease in the ability of host species to fight off emerging parasitism.
The threespine stickleback (Gasterosteus aculeatus) serves as a model system to study the effects of parasitism, and parasite/host interactions. Alaksa, one of our focal study areas for threespine stickelback has experienced the fastest rate of Human expansion in the US, making it unique in allowing us to study the interaction between disease and anthropogenic impacts. Schistocephalus solidus is a common tapeworm parasitie that uses the threespine stickleback as an intermediate host. After the last glaciers retreated approximately 20,000 years ago, the threespine stickleback has radiated from the ocean throughout thousands of lakes and streams across the holartic region. Some lakes are now completely isolated from each other, thus producing a wide diversity of habitats. The extent of infestation of S. solidus on the stickleback species also varies between habitats. Several of these lakes have been under continuous anthropogenic stress, resulting in a shift in host-parasite dynamics.
For my Masters degree, I developed a project on the population structure of horseshoe crabs, one of nature’s most ancient and well-adapted animals. I analyzed among other things, their sex ratio and mating dynamics within a small habitat range during their spawning season. The results of my project are currently being utilized by the Connecticut Department of Environmental Protection as the baseline data for yearly population surveys, and assessing implementation of conservation efforts at the state level.
Reyes, M. (2009) Mark-recapture study to examine male to female ratio, and population estimates of horseshoe crabs (Limulus polyphemus) on the shores of Clinton, Connecticut. ProQuest/UMI Dissertation Publishing.
TA. Clark University. Introduction to Biology 101 & 102