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Thomas Raffel

Headshot - Thomas Raffel

Thomas Raffel
Associate Professor, Ph.D.
354 DH
(248) 370-3551
Lab location: 355-357 DH
Lab phone: (248) 370-3547
[email protected]

Raffel lab website 


BIO 4380/BIO 5900 Ecological Problem Solving
BIO 4381 Ecological Problem Solving Lab
BIO 4320 Medical Parasitology
BIO 4321 Medical Parasitology Lab
BIO 5320 Medical Parasitology/Mycology

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:

Thomas Raffel list of publications

Sckrabulis*, J.S., A.R. Flory and T.R. Raffel. (2020). Direct onshore wind predicts daily swimmer's itch (avian schistosome) incidence at a Michigan beach. Parasitology 147(4) 431-440. DOI: 10.1017/S0031182020000074.

Altman*, K.A. and T.R. Raffel. (2019). Thermal acclimation has little effect on tadpole resistance to Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis. Diseases of Aquatic Organisms 133: 207-216. DOI: 10.3354/dao03347.

Rumschlag, S.L., N.T. Halstead, J.T. Hoverman, T.R. Raffel, H.J. Carrick, P.J. Hudson and J.R. Rohr. (2019). Effects of pesticides on exposure and susceptibility to parasites can be generalized to pesticide class and type in aquatic communities. Ecology Letters 22: 962–972. DOI: 10.1111/ele.13253.

Palmer-Young, E.C., T.R. Raffel and Q.S. McFrederick. (2019). pH-mediated inhibition of a bumble bee parasite by an intestinal symbiont. Parasitology 146(3): 380-388. DOI: 10.1017/S0031182018001555.

Palmer-Young, E.C., T.R. Raffel and Q.S. McFrederick. (2018). Temperature-mediated inhibition of a bumblebee parasite by an intestinal symbiont. Proceedings of the Royal Society B 285: 1890. DOI: 10.1098/rspb.2018.2041.

Raffel, T.R. (2018). How do newts fight disease? They change their habitat. Functional Ecology 32:1142–1144. DOI: 10.1111/1365-2435.13111.

Halstead, N.T., C.M. Hoover, A. Arakala, D.J. Civitello, G.A. De Leo, M. Gambhir, S.A. Johnson, N. Jouanard, K.A. Loerns, T.A. McMahon, R.A. Ndione, K. Nguyen, T.R. Raffel, J.V. Remais, G. Riveau, S.H. Sokolow and J.R. Rohr. (2018). Agrochemicals increase risk of human schistosomiasis by supporting higher densities of intermediate hosts. Nature Communications. 9(1): 837. DOI: 10.1038/s41467-018-03189-w.

Molnár, P.K., J.P. Sckrabulis*, K.A. Altman* and T.R. Raffel. (2017). Thermal performance curves and the metabolic theory of ecology - A practical guide to models and experiments for parasitologists. Journal of Parasitology 103: 423-439. DOI:10.1111/1365-2656.12510.

Stephens*, J.P., K.A. Altman*, K.A. Berven, S.D. Tiegs and T.R. Raffel. (2017). Bottom-up and trait-mediated effects of resource quality on amphibian parasitism. Journal of Animal Ecology 86: 305-315. DOI: 10.1111/1365-2656.12613.

Stephens*, J.P., A.B. Stoler, J.P. Sckrabulis*, A.J. Fetzer*, K.A. Berven, S.D. Tiegs, and T.R. Raffel. (2017). Ontogenetic changes in sensitivity to nutrient limitation of tadpole growth. Oecologia 183: 263-273. DOI: 10.1007/s00442-016-3746-7.

*OU student

Department of Biological Sciences

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