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Andrew Dobson

  • Ecology and Evolutionary Biology
Position: Professor
Title: Professor of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology.
Office: 117 Eno Hall
Phone: 609-258-2913
Andrew Dobson


Parasitic worms, bacteria and viruses are a constant feature of the daily lives of most 'healthy' populations of animal and plant species.  My research is concerned with the ecology of infectious diseases and the conservation of endangered and threatened species.

My research focuses on the population and community ecology of infectious diseases in a variety of endangered and fragile ecosystems: the Serengeti in East Africa, the coastal salt marshes and grasslands of California; the forest fragments of Malaysia and Bangladesh, and the eye’s of the finches in the back yards of New England.  I also work on the interaction between climate variability and the transmission of malaria and cholera in India and Bangladesh.  All of this research is sponsored by NIH, NSF or NOAA.  Each study focuses on a different aspect of interactions between pathogens and their hosts that has allowed me to develop sections of a larger body of theory that deals with the role of infectious diseases in natural populations and communities.  The theoretical work and its development is intimately tied to the empirical work, all of which is undertaken in collaboration with students, post-docs and colleagues at a variety of institutions.

My conservation work is focused upon the Serengeti region of Tanzania.  While a significant emphasis has been upon the control of pathogens that can infect both wildlife and domestic species: rabies, rinderpest, brucellosis. I am also interested in the ecology and economics of land-use change, wildlife-human interactions and ecotourism.  I am an active partner in the Serengeti BioComplexity Project, this provides a forum for everyone who works in the Serengeti to interact and develop ideas that can be more broadly applied to the conservation of East African grasslands.

Sample Lectures:

May 2008 AIBS Annual Meeting (theme: Climate, Environment, and Infectious Diseases) "Disentangling the Role of Climate, Immunity, and Biotic Interactions in the Dynamics of Infectious Diseases"

Arthur M. Sackler Colloquia of the NAS, Dec 2007. In the Light of Evolution, II: Biodiversity and Extinction “Homage to Linnaeus. The extent of extant biodiversity: How many parasites? How many Hosts?”
Selected Publications:
  1. Dobson, A. P., Lafferty, K. D., Kuris, A. M., Hechinger, R. F. & Jetz, W. 2008 Homage to Linnaeus: How many parasites? How many hosts? PNAS 105, 11482-11489.
  2. Dobson, A. P. & Lynes, L. 2008 How does poaching affect the size of National Parks? Trends in Ecology and Evolution 23, 177-180.
  3.  Lafferty, K. D., Allesina, S., Arim, M., Briggs, C. J., DeLeo, G. A., Dobson, A. P., Dunne, J. A., Johnston, P. T. J., Kuris, A. M., Marcogliese, D. J., Martinez, N. D., MArquet, P. A., McLaughlin, J. P., Mordecai, E. A., Pascual, M., Poulin, R. & Thieltges, D. W. 2008 Parasites in food webs: the ultimate missing links. Ecology Letters 11, 533-546.
  4. Lembo, T., Hampson, K., Haydon, D. T., Craft, M., Dobson, A. P., Dushoff, J., Eblate, E., Hoare, R., Kaare, M., Mlengeya, T., Mentzel, C., Packer, C. & Cleaveland, S. 2008. Exploring reservoir dynamics: a case study of rabies in the Serengeti ecosystem. Journal of Applied Ecology 45, 1246-1257.
  5. Dobson, A. P. 2007. Sympathy for the Devil. EcoHealth 4:241-243.
  6. Hampson, K., Dushoff, J., Bingham, J., Bruckner, G., Ali, Y. H. & Dobson, A. P.  2007. Synchronous cycles of domestic dog rabies in sub-Saharan Africa and the impact of control efforts. PNAS 104:7717-7722.
  7. Jetz, W., Wilcove D. & Dobson A. P.  2007. Projected impacts of climate and land-use change on the global diversity of birds. PLOS Biology 5:e157.