Disease Ecology: Parasites, Pestilence and Populations

Spring 2017 quarter

Taught by

This course provides an introduction to the field of disease ecology, an area of study that has developed rapidly over the past three decades, and addresses some of the most significant challenges to human health and biological conservation. Students will obtain an appreciation for the incredible diversity of parasitic organisms, arguably the most abundant life forms on the planet, and examine how parasites invade and spread through host populations. Ecological interactions between hosts and parasites will be examined from an individual and population-level perspective. Students will gain a basic understanding of the population biology of micro- and macro- parasites, mechanisms of transmission and causes and consequences of ecological and genetic heterogeneity. Laboratory exercises will introduce students to medical microbiology techniques and ecological research using an experimental approach. Specific topics include types of pathogens and their ecological properties, epidemiology and impacts on host populations, strategies used by parasites to exploit hosts, strategies used by hosts to evade parasites, role of ecology and evolution in the emergence of new diseases, and the role of parasites in biodiversity and conservation. The main objectives of this course are to increase student awareness and understanding of (i) the role parasites play in the ecology and evolution of animal populations, including humans; and (ii) the relevance of ecological and evolutionary considerations in managing infectious diseases in individual human or animal hosts and populations.

Program Details

Fields of Study



Spring Open

Location and Schedule

Campus Location


Time Offered


Additional Schedule Details

Wednesdays 6-10 pm

Online Learning

Hybrid Online Learning < 25% Delivered Online