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Award Abstract #1241889

The Influence of Temporal and Spatial Scales on Drivers of Host-Parasite Interactions

Emerging Frontiers
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Initial Amendment Date: March 29, 2013
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Latest Amendment Date: May 31, 2016
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Award Number: 1241889
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Award Instrument: Standard Grant
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Program Manager: Elizabeth R. Blood
EF Emerging Frontiers
BIO Direct For Biological Sciences
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Start Date: April 1, 2013
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End Date: March 31, 2017 (Estimated)
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Awarded Amount to Date: $911,405.00
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Investigator(s): Jason Rohr jrohr@cas.usf.edu (Principal Investigator)
Barry Sinervo (Co-Principal Investigator)
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Sponsor: University of South Florida
3702 Spectrum Blvd.
Tampa, FL 33612-9446 (813)974-2897
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Program Reference Code(s): 7959
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Program Element Code(s): 7959


The distributions of virtually all organisms are dictated by abiotic and biotic factors and dispersal or propagule pressure (number of individuals colonizing a non-native region). Nevertheless, there are few theoretical and empirical studies that a) simultaneously consider the impacts of these three processes on species interactions and distributions or b) investigate how the relative influence of these factors change across spatial and temporal scales. Host-parasite interactions are species interactions of particular concern because human and wildlife diseases are emerging at an unprecedented rate. Funds are being provided to address this knowledge gap using a theoretical framework to test how spatial and temporal scales affect host-parasite interactions. Spatially, abiotic factors, such as climate, might be most important at large spatial scales, but biotic and propagule pressure factors might be more important at small scales where climate is generally more homogeneous. Temporally, unpredictable climatic shifts, which are increasing with global climate change, might increase infections because parasites should acclimate to temperature shifts more quickly than their hosts due to their smaller sizes and faster metabolisms. The overall goal of this grant is to use a combination of experiments, modeling, and local-to-global analyses to test these and other hypotheses for how spatiotemporal scales affect host-parasite interactions and disease emergence. Amphibian-parasite interactions will be the model study system because there are several spatiotemporally-explicit datasets on amphibian distributions, amphibian pathogen prevalence, and pathogen-driven amphibian declines and extinctions. The specific objectives are to:

A. Determine how the temporal scale of climatic shifts affects host-parasite interactions.

B. Evaluate how spatial scale affects the relative importance of abiotic, biotic, and propagule pressure factors to host-parasite interactions.

C. Develop validated predictive models for extinction risk driven by climate change and disease.

This award will engage individuals of ethnicities or abilities that are under-represented in science and will broadly educate the public on the biology of environmental change, providing a positive legacy that will persist beyond its funding. The proposed research will be thoroughly integrated with a new graduate course on the importance of spatiotemporal scales in ecology and will provide research opportunities for undergraduates that are female and of ethnicities or abilities that are under-represented in science. Additionally, in coordination with the Hillsborough County School District and the University of South Florida's College of Continuing Education, the research team will offer summer workshops (as continuing education credits) on the biology of environmental change for high school biology teachers. At least one-half of the teachers will be chosen from schools with a primarily minority enrollment. Finally, the scientific research itself will have widespread public benefits because it will enhance forecasts of the effects of natural and anthropogenic environmental change on disease risk across spatiotemporal scales.


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Rohr, J.R., Palmer, B.D.. "Climate change, multiple stressors, and the decline of ectotherms," Conservation Biology, v.27, 2013, p. 741.

Li, Y., Cohen, J.M., Rohr, J.R.. "A review and synthesis of the effects of climate change on amphibians," Integrative Zoology, v.8, 2013, p. 145.

Sears, B.F., Rohr, J.R.. "Loss of trematode parthenitae in Planorbella trivolvis (Mollusca: Gastropoda)," Journal of Parasitology, v.99, 2013, p. 738.

McMahon, T.A., Rohr, J.R.. "Trypan blue dye is an effective and inexpensive way to determine the viability of Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis zoospores," Ecohealth, v.11, 2014, p. 164.

Liu, X., Rohr, J.R., Li, Y.. "Climate, vegetation, introduced hosts and trade shape a global wildlife pandemic," Proceedings of the Royal Society of London B, v.280, 2013, p. 20122506.

Venesky, M.D., Hanlon, S.M., Lynch, K., Parris, M.J., Rohr, J.R. "Optimal digestion theory does not predict the effect of pathogens on intestinal plasticity," Biology Letters, v.9, 2013, p. 20130038.

Sears, B.F., Snyder, P.W., Rohr, J.R.. "Infection deflection: hosts control parasite location with behavior to improve tolerance," Proceedings of the Royal Society of London B, v.280, 2013, p. 20130759.

Sears, B., Snyder, P., Rohr, J.R.. "No effects of two anesthetic agents on circulating leukocyte counts or resistance to trematode infections in larval amphibians," Journal of Herpetology, v.47, 2013, p. 498.

Raffel, T.R., Romansic, J.M., Halstead, N.T., McMahon, T.A., Venesky, M.D., Rohr, J.R.. "Disease and thermal acclimation in a more variable and unpredictable climate," Nature Climate Change, v.3, 2013, p. 146.

Leslie, T.W., Rohr, J.R., Biddinger, D.J., Hulting, A.J., Mortensen, D.A., Fleischer, S.J.. "Examining shifts in Carabidae assemblages across a forest-agriculture ecotone," Environmental Entomology, v.43, 2014, p. 18.

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