Updated: 11-20-2012

.:Major Projects

Understanding how ecological community contexts influence disease outcomes

Most of the serious emerging diseases of humans are "zoonotic" - or step from wildlife into our world. Given this knowledge, can we predict which diseases will emerge? Can we manage ecosystems to reduce disease incidence? Many of these critical questions for humanity can't currently be answered - we don't yet understand enough about how diseases operate in the natural world.

One basic, outstanding question is how do other species, besides the parasite/pathogen and its hosts, that are present in the larger community influence the transmission of disesases? We are using experimental and field approaches to address this key question - for too long diseases have been studied in abstraction, separated from the rich biological milieu in which they are actually embedded. Do diverse arrays of hosts dilute or amplify disease? How often do predators actually consume enough disease propagules to matter? Can predators of disease hosts act to stablize or reduce disease prevalence?

How can we better teach biology students to prepare them for the future?

Jobs in academica and the private sector require scientists with the ability to think quantiatively, to use mathematics to model and understand real problems, and to use statistical analyses to understand data. Colleagues in the Biology and Mathematics/ Statistics Departments at Radford University and I are working to reform the curriculum of our students to increase the quantitative sophistication achieved before graduation. We've worked to created two new courses, Math4Bio and Stats4Bio, that are meant to engage biology students with real examples of math and stats used in biological contexts, that is, to solve biological problems. We are hosting a seminar series featuring guests that are also reforming math/bio education, or who are math/bio researchers. We will also host a regional meeting of like-minded educators during summer 2013. (National Science Foundation, Transforming Undergraduate Education in the Sciences Program, 2011-2014, grant to J Hagen, J Wojdak, F Singer, J Stewart, $199,000) Read more...

.:Selected Publications

Chambers DL, JM Wojdak, P Du, LK Belden. 2013.  Pond acidification may explain differences in corticosterone among salamander populations (in press, Physiological and Biochemical Zoology).

Wojdak JM, L Clay*, S Moore*, T Williams*, LK Belden. 2013.  Echinostoma trivolvis (Digenea; Echinostomatidae) second intermediate host preference matches host-suitability. (in press, Parasitology Research)

Belden LK, WE Peterman, SA Smith, LR Brooks, EF Benfield, WP Black, Z Yang, JM Wojdak. 2012.  Metagonimoides oregonensis (Digenea, Heterophyidae) infection in pleurocerid snails and Desmognathus quadramaculatus salamander larvae in southern Appalachian streams.  Journal of Parasitology 98:760-7. 

Chambers DL, JM Wojdak, P Du, LK Belden.  2011.  Corticosterone level changes throughout larval development in the amphibians Rana sylvatica and Ambystoma jeffersonianum reared under laboratory, mesocosm, or free-living conditions.  Copeia 4:530-538.

Belden LK, JM Wojdak.  2011.  The combined influence of trematode parasites and a salamander predator on wood frog (Rana sylvatica) tadpoles. Oecologia 166:1077-1086.

Wojdak JM.  2010.  An attention-grabbing approach to introducing students to argumentation in science. Bioscience Education 15:c5.  DOI 10.3108/beej.15.c5

Wojdak JM, J Guinan, J Wirgau, R Kugler, G Hammond, C Small, C Manyara, F Singer, C Watts, B Bodo, A Baldwin.  2010.  University facilities as real-world foci of multidisciplinary science learning.   Journal of College Science Teaching 39:8-16.

Wojdak JM, DC Trexler*.  2010.  Relative strength of trait- and density-mediated indirect effects of a predator in a freshwater food chain: the influence of predation intensity.  Ecological Research 25:327-335.

Wojdak JM.  2009.  Foraging and refuge use by a pond snail: effects of physiological state, predators, and resources. Acta Oecologica 35:746-751.

Belden LK, P Widder, L Fischer*, A Carter*, JM Wojdak. 2009.  Trematode (Echinostoma trivolvis) egg hatching in response to snail host and non-host chemical cues.  Parasitology Research 105: 883-885.

Wojdak JM, GG Mittelbach. 2007.  Consequences of habitat partitioning among snails for pond ecosystem function. Ecology 88:2072-2083.

Wojdak JM.  2005. Top-down, bottom-up, and consumer species richness effects on ecosystems: context dependency and relative effect strengths. Ecological Monographs 75:489-504.

Wojdak JM, BT Luttbeg.  2005.Relative strength of trait-mediated and density-mediated indirect effects of a predator vary with resource levels.  Oikos 111:592-598.

Steiner CF, TL Darcy, NJ Dorn, EA Garcia, GG Mittelbach, JM Wojdak. 2005. Indirect facilitation and consumer diversity regulate trophic-level biomass and population variability in a model planktonic system.  Oikos 110:556-566.

Dorn NJ, JM Wojdak.  2004. The role of omnivorous crayfish in littoral communities.  Oecologia 140:150-159.

Mittelbach GG, TL Darcy, NJ Dorn, EA Garcia, CF Steiner, JM Wojdak. 2004. The impact of density-independent mortality on species coexistence: an experimental test with zooplankton.  Oikos 107:415-421.

Knapp AK, MD Smith, SL Collins, N Zambatis, M Peel, S Emery, JM Wojdak, H Biggs, J Kruger, SJ Andelman. 2004.  Searching for generality in ecology: testing North American grassland rules in South African savannas.  Frontiers in Ecology and the Environment 2:483-491.




Are you a student interested in research?


Are you fascinated by aquatic ecology, predator-prey interactions, or parasites?


Are you willing to work hard, and as part of team, to discover new things about interesting organisms?


Yes? Good!


Follow the links to "Contact Jeremy' and ask about opportunities in my lab.