Department of Biological Sciences

Dodge Hall Rm 375
118 Library Dr
Rochester, MI 48309-4479
(location map)
(248) 370-3550
fax: (248) 370-4225


Tom Raffel

Thomas Raffel
Assistant Professor, Ph.D.
354 DH
(248) 370-3551
Lab location: 355-357 DH
Lab phone: (248) 370-3547

Raffel lab website 


  • BIO 301 Ecology
  • BIO 465/565 Medical Parasitology and Mycology
  • BIO 591 Special Topics in Biology: Experimental Design and Analysis
  • BIO 671 Biological Communication I

 Research: Ecology and Evolution of Parasite-Host Interactions

 Parasites have important and underappreciated effects on the ecology and evolution of their hosts, as well as on other members of their ecological communities. I seek to understand how parasites influence the ecology and evolution of their hosts, and how ecological and anthropogenic factors affect parasite-host dynamics. Much of my lab's current research is on the ecology of parasitism in amphibians, with potential implications for the rapid decline of amphibian populations worldwide. Ongoing projects include:

  • Thermal Biology of Parasitism. Temperature variability might have important effects on parasitism in ectothermic hosts, but the effects of host thermal acclimation on parasites remain poorly understood.
  • Host Life History Evolution. Parasites can have surprising effects on host evolution, including changes in reproductive strategies.
  • Aquatic Ecotoxicology. Agricultural and other pollutants can have dramatic consequences for local pond communities, including altered dynamics of snail-borne parasites of frogs and people.
  • Acquired Resistance to Infection. The ability of the vertebrate acquired immune system to develop improved resistance to parasites following repeated exposures has important effects on parasite dynamics.

Other interests include the relative importance of host resistance vs. tolerance to parasites, public perceptions of evolution and climate change, and the application of statistical models in the biological sciences.

Selected Publications:

 Raffel, T. R., Romansic, J.M., Halstead, N.T., McMahon, T.A.,  Venesky, M.D., Rohr, J.R. (2013)  Disease and thermal acclimation in a more variable and unpredictable climate. Nature Climate Change 3: 146-151. 

McMahon, T.A., Halstead, N.T., Johnson, S., Raffel, T.R., Romansic, J.M., Crumrine, P.W., Rohr, J.R.  (2012)  Fungicide-induced declines of freshwater biodiversity modify ecosystem functions and services. Ecology Letters. 7: 714-722.

Rohr, J. R., Dobson, A.P., Johnson, P.T. J., Kilpatrick, A.M., Paull, S.H., Raffel, T.R., Ruiz-Moreno, D., Thomas, M.B.  (2011)  Frontiers in climate change-disease research. Trends in Ecology and Evolution. 26: 270-277.

Raffel, T.R., Lloyd-Smith, J.O., Sessions, S.K, Hudson, P.J., Rohr, J.R. (2011)  Does the early frog catch the worm?  Disentangling potential drivers of a parasite age-intensity relationship in tadpoles.  Oecologia. 165: 1031–1042. 

 Raffel, T.R., Hoverman, J.T., Halstead, N.T., Michel, P.J., Rohr, J.R.  (2010)  Parasitism in a community context: Trait-mediated interactions with competition and predation.  Ecology 91: 1900-1907.