Parasites can have profound effects on host physiology and behavior. Despite the fact that nearly all animals in nature harbor at least one parasites, we know very little about how parasites sculpt host phenotypes. My research explores how California killifish physiology and behavior are modified in response to infection by their two manipulative trematode parasites, Euhaplorchis californiensis and Renicola buchanani. These two parasites are associated with an increase in the frequency of "conspicuous behaviors" in the killifish. These conspicuous behaviors draw the attention of human observers, and appear to draw the attention of predatory birds as well as infected killifish are 10-30 times more likely to be consumed by these predators than are uninfected killifish (Lafferty and Morris 1996). Predatory birds are the definitive host for these parasites, and this system is considered a classic example of adaptive phenotypic manipulation of hosts by their parasites.
I am a PhD student at the University of California Davis, and am extremely lucky to have a supportive advisor (Dr. Andrew Sih) who allows me to travel the world to learn new techniques for studying interactions between parasites and their hosts. I have studied under the Ecological Parasitology Lab at the University of California Santa Barbara and Dr. Oyvind Overli at the Norwegian University of Life Sciences, and continue to collaborate with these labs. I am thrilled to be currently working with Dr. Ryan Earley, where I am learning techniques for measuring and manipulating hormone profiles in California killifish
Conrad JL, Weinersmith KL, Brodin T and Sih, A (2011). Behavioural syndromes in fish: a review with implications for ecology and fisheries management. Journal of Fish Biology 78: 395-435.
Cote J, Fogarty S, Brodin T, Weinersmith KL and Sih A (2011). Personality-dependent dispersal in the invasive mosquitofish: group composition matters. Proceedings of the Royal Society, Series B 278: 1670-1678.
Cote J, Fogarty S, Weinersmith KL, Brodin T and Sih A (2010). Personality traits and dispersal tendency in the invasive mosquitofish (Gambusia affinis). Proceedings of the Royal Society, Series B 277: 1571-1579.
*Article featured in Nature's Research Highlights and in Conservation Magazine.
Wiegmann DD, Weinersmith KL and Seubert SM (2010). Multi-attribute mate choice decisions and uncertainty in the decision process: a generalized sequential search strategy. Journal of Mathematical Biology 60 (4): 543-572.
Smith KL, Miner JG, Wiegmann DD and Newman SP (2009). Individual differences in exploratory and antipredator behaviour in juvenile smallmouth bass (Micropterus dolomieui). Behaviour (146): 283-294.
American Society of Parasitologists Outstanding Student Paper Award (2012)
UCD and Humanities Graduate Research Award in Ecology (2012)
American Association of University Women Dissertation Fellowship (2012-2013)
National Science Foundation Doctoral Dissertation Improvement Grant (with Andrew Sih, 2011)
Animal Behavior Society Student Research Grant (2011)
SciFund Challenge Round 1: An Experiment in Crowdfunding (2011)
UC NRS Mildred E. Mathias Graduate Student Research Grant (2009)
Peter J. Shields and Henry A. Jastro Research Fellowship (2009)
UCD Department of Environmental Science and Policy Travel Grant (2008 & 2011)
Graduate Group in Ecology Block Grant Awards (2007-2011)