Kevin Lafferty

Kevin Lafferty
United States Geological Survey | USGS · Western Ecological Research Center

Ph.D

About

336
Publications
105,723
Reads
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31,892
Citations
Additional affiliations
July 1998 - present
United States Geological Survey
Position
  • Marine Ecologist
June 1998 - present
University of California, Santa Barbara
Position
  • Professor (Associate)
January 1992 - present
University of California, Santa Barbara
Position
  • Principal Investigator

Publications

Publications (336)
Article
As sustainable development practitioners have worked to “ensure healthy lives and promote well-being for all” and “conserve life on land and below water”, what progress has been made with win–win interventions that reduce human infectious disease burdens while advancing conservation goals? Using a systematic literature review, we identified 46 prop...
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Why do so many parasitic worms have complex life-cycles? A complex life-cycle has at least two hypothesized costs: (i) worms with longer life-cycles, i.e. more successive hosts, must be generalists at the species level, which might reduce lifetime survival or growth, and (ii) each required host transition adds to the risk that a worm will fail to c...
Article
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Native forests on tropical islands have been displaced by non-native species, leading to calls for their transformation. Simultaneously, there is increasing recognition that tropical forests can help sequester carbon that would otherwise enter the atmosphere. However, it is unclear if native forests sequester more or less carbon than human-altered...
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Predator–prey interactions shape ecosystems and can help maintain biodiversity. However, for many of the earth's most biodiverse and abundant organisms, including terrestrial arthropods, these interactions are difficult or impossible to observe directly with traditional approaches. Based on previous theory, it is likely that predator–prey interacti...
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We explored whether parasites are important in kelp forests by examining their effects on a high‐quality, high‐resolution kelp‐forest food web. After controlling for generic effects of network size, parasites affected kelp‐forest food web structure in some ways consistent with other systems. Parasites increased the trophic span of web, increasing t...
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Analyses of transient dynamics are critical to understanding infectious disease transmission and persistence. Identifying and predicting transients across scales, from within-host to community-level patterns, plays an important role in combating ongoing epidemics and mitigating the risk of future outbreaks. Moreover, greater emphases on non-asympto...
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Schistosome parasites infect more than 200 million people annually, mostly in sub-Saharan Africa, where people may be co-infected with more than one species of the parasite. Infection risk for any single species is determined, in part, by the distribution of its obligate intermediate host snail. As the World Health Organization reprioritizes snail...
Article
Reef fishes are a treasured part of marine biodiversity, and also provide needed protein for many millions of people. Although most reef fishes might survive projected increases in ocean temperatures, corals are less tolerant. A few fish species strictly depend on corals for food and shelter, suggesting that coral extinctions could lead to some sec...
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We built a high-resolution topological food web for the kelp forests of the Santa Barbara Channel, California, USA that includes parasites and significantly improves resolution compared to previous webs. The 1,098 nodes and 21,956 links in the web describe an economically, socially, and ecologically vital system. Nodes are broken into life-stages,...
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Research on the ‘ecology of fear’ posits that defensive prey responses to avoid predation can cause non-lethal effects across ecological scales. Parasites also elicit defensive responses in hosts with associated non-lethal effects, which raises the longstanding, yet unresolved question of how non-lethal effects of parasites compare with those of pr...
Article
Schistosomiasis, or “snail fever”, is a parasitic disease affecting over 200 million people worldwide. People become infected when exposed to water containing particular species of freshwater snails. Habitats for such snails can be mapped using lightweight, inexpensive and field-deployable consumer-grade Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs), also known...
Article
To reach the Sustainable Development Goals, we may need to act on synergies between some targets while mediating trade-offs between other targets. But what, exactly, are synergies and trade-offs, and how are they related to other outcomes, such as ‘win–win’ solutions? Finding limited guidance in the existing literature, we developed an operational...
Article
Found throughout the tree of life and in every ecosystem, parasites are some of the most diverse, ecologically important animals on Earth—but in almost all cases, the least protected by wildlife or ecosystem conservation efforts. For decades, ecologists have been calling for research to understand parasites' important ecological role, and increasin...
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Abstract Amphipods are often key species in aquatic food webs due to their functional roles in the ecosystem and as intermediate hosts for trophically transmitted parasites. Amphipods can also host many parasite species, yet few studies address the entire parasite community of a gammarid population, precluding a more dynamic understanding of the fo...
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The ability to properly identify species present in a landscape is foundational to ecology and essential for natural resource management and conservation. However, many species are often unaccounted for due to ineffective direct capture and visual surveys, especially in aquatic environments. Environmental DNA metabarcoding is an approach that overc...
Article
Environmental DNA (eDNA) analysis is a technique increasingly used for biomonitoring and research of fish populations and communities by environmental resource managers and academic researchers. Although there is much interest in expanding the use of eDNA as a survey technique for managers, there remains skepticism regarding both its utility (given...
Article
At Palmyra Atoll, the eDNA signal on tidal sand flats was associated with fish biomass density and captured 98‐100% of the expected species diversity there. Although eDNA spilled‐over across habitats, species associated with reef habitat contributed more eDNA to reef sites than to sand‐flat sites, and species associated with sand‐flat habitat contr...
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The first signs of sea star wasting disease (SSWD) epidemic occurred in just few months in 2013 along the entire North American Pacific coast. Disease dynamics did not manifest as the typical travelling wave of reaction-diffusion epidemiological model, suggesting that other environmental factors might have played some role. To help explore how exte...
Chapter
Parasites have important and unique impacts on marine food webs. By infecting taxa across all trophic levels, parasites affect both bottom-up and top-down processes in marine systems. When host densities are high enough, parasites can regulate or even decimate their populations, causing regime shifts in marine systems. As consumers and resources, p...
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The disease ecology community has struggled to come to consensus on whether biodiversity reduces or increases infectious disease risk, a question that directly affects policy decisions for biodiversity conservation and public health. Here, we summarize the primary points of contention regarding biodiversity–disease relationships and suggest that ve...
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Here, we present the results of a taxonomic survey of the nematodes parasitizing fishes from the lagoon flats of Palmyra Atoll, Eastern Indo-Pacific. We performed quantitative parasitological surveys of 653 individual fish from each of the 44 species using the intertidal sand flats that border the atoll’s lagoon. We provide morphological descriptio...
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Recently, the World Health Organization recognized that efforts to interrupt schistosomiasis transmission through mass drug administration have been ineffective in some regions; one of their new recommended strategies for global schistosomiasis control emphasizes targeting the freshwater snails that transmit schistosome parasites. We sought to iden...
Article
Ecotones can increase free‐living species richness, but little is known about how parasites respond to ecotones. Here we use parasite communities in raccoons (Procyon lotor) to test the hypothesis that parasite communities can be divided into core and satellite species, each with fundamentally different responses to ecotones. We used published para...
Article
Local and global measurements of parasite prevalence and abundance are critical for understanding the dynamics that underlie the diversity, distribution, and evolution of infectious diseases. Here we present a dataset of gut helminths found in 1) raccoons throughout their range, based on primary literature from 1925‐ 2017 and 2) raccoons in Santa B...
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Because natural ecosystems are complex, it is difficult to predict how their variability scales across space and levels of organization. The species‐insurance hypothesis predicts that asynchronous dynamics among species should reduce variability when biomass is aggregated either from local species populations to local multispecies communities, or f...
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We surveyed copepods parasitic on the fishes at Palmyra, a remote atoll in the Central Indo-Pacific faunal region. In total, we collected 849 individual fish, representing 44 species, from the intertidal lagoon flats at Palmyra and recovered 17 parasitic copepod species. The parasitic copepods were: Orbitacolaxwilliamsi on Mulloidichthysflavolineat...
Article
Arguments for the need to conserve aquatic predator (AP) populations often focus on the ecological and socioeconomic roles they play. Here, we summarize the diverse ecosystem functions and services connected to APs, including regulating food webs, cycling nutrients, engineering habitats, transmitting diseases/parasites, mediating ecological invasio...
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We examined the extent to which supply‐side, niche, and competition theories and concepts help explain a trematode community in which one species comprises 87% of the trematode individuals, and the remaining 15 species each have < 3%. We collected and dissected the common and wide‐ranging snail host Heleobia australis over four seasons from three d...
Article
1.Two common Dibothriocephalus (formerly Diphyllobothrium) tapeworm species were significantly reduced by experimental culling of their fish host Arctic charr (Salvelinus alpinus) in a subarctic lake. 2.Between 1984 and 1991, funnel traps were used to cull ~ 35 metric tons of Arctic charr, reducing charr density by ~ 80%. As charr densities decreas...
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To improve ability to detect white sharks without the need for tags, or visual census, we developed a species-specific environmental DNA (eDNA) assay that targets a 163 bp fragment of the white shark (Carcharodon carcharias) mitochondrial cytochrome B gene on a digital droplet PCR (ddPCR) platform. We used this marker to detect white shark DNA in 2...
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Sea‐level rise (SLR) impacts on intertidal habitat depend on coastal topology, accretion, and constraints from surrounding development. Such habitat changes might affect species like Belding's savannah sparrows (Passerculus sandwichensis beldingi; BSSP), which live in high‐elevation salt marsh in the Southern California Bight. To predict how BSSP h...
Article
Foundation species define the ecosystems they live in, but ecologists have often characterized dominant plants as foundational without supporting evidence. Giant kelp has long been considered a marine foundation species due to its complex structure and high productivity; however, there is little quantitative evidence to evaluate this. Here, we appl...
Article
Species interactions can influence ecosystem functioning by enhancing or suppressing the activities of species that drive ecosystem processes, or by causing changes in biodiversity. However, one important class of species interactions - parasitism - has been little considered in biodiversity and ecosystem functioning (BD-EF) research. Parasites mig...
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The Asian tiger mosquito,Aedes albopictus,appears to have been extirpated from Palmyra Atoll following rat eradication. Anecdotal biting reports, collection records, and regular captures in black-light traps showed the species was present before rat eradication. Since then, there have been no biting reports and no captures over 2 years of extensive...
Data
Sampling locations, types, and effort for mosquitoes before and after rat eradication
Article
To put marine disease impacts in context requires a broad perspective on the roles infectious agents have in the ocean. Parasites infect most marine vertebrate and invertebrate species, and parasites and predators can have comparable biomass density, suggesting they play comparable parts as consumers in marine food webs. Although some parasites mig...
Article
Fear of predation alters prey behavior, which can indirectly alter entire landscapes. A parasite-induced ecology of fear might also exist if animals avoid parasite-contaminated resources when infection costs outweigh foraging benefits. To investigate whether animals avoid parasite contaminated sites, and if such avoidance balances disease costs and...
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Full-text available
A survey of the monogeneans of fishes from the lagoon flats of Palmyra Atoll detected 16 species already reported from the Indo-West Pacific faunal region. A total of 653 individual fish from 44 species were collected from the sand flats bordering the lagoon of the atoll. Eighteen species of fish were infected with monogeneans. The monogenean speci...