Research

My research focuses on the intersection between community ecology, multi-host pathogens, and recent environmental change. I am interested in three RNA viruses, deformed wing virus (DWV), black queen cell virus (BQCV), and sacbrood virus (SBV), that are globally distributed and infect European Honey bees (Apis mellifera) and many native pollinator species.  Additionally, habitat loss and land use changes disproportionately affect some native pollinators, causing extirpation of sensitive pollinator species and alterations to pollinator community composition. Despite these growing concerns, virus prevalence has not been examined across pollinator communities that are differentially affected by recent environmental changes, and little is known about how transmission dynamics will change as the host community composition changes. My dissertation research will investigate the patterns and mechanisms of transmission of multi-host pathogens in pollinator communities responding to recent anthropogenic environmental changes.

Bumblebee with viruses
Yellow banded bumblebee (Bombus terricola) on goldenrod (Photo credit: Michelle L. Fearon). The inset is an electron micrograph of DWV, BQCV, and SBV. (Photo credit: Chen et. al 2006).