Mordecai/Peay/Fukami Labs' Best of 2016 List

Best papers of 2016 by MPF labs:

Andrew - Ellner, Snyder, Adler - How to quantify the temporal storage effect using simulations instead of math - Ecol Letters

Nick - Peters et al - Predictors of elevational biodiversity gradients change from single taxa to the multi-taxa community level - Nature Commmunications

Tad - Yackulic - Competitive exclusion over broad spatial extents is a slow process: evidence and implications for species distribution modeling - Ecography

Manpreet - Gallone et al. Domestication and Divergence of Saccharomyces cerevisiae Beer Yeasts - Cell

Gabriel - Terrer et al. - Mycorrhizal association as a primary control of the CO2 fertilization effect - Science

Meghan - Stephens et al - The macroecology of infectious diseases: a new perspective on global-scale drivers of pathogen distributions and impacts - Ecology Letters

Joe/Max - Locey and Lennon - Scaling laws predict global microbial diversity - PNAS

Laura - Vellend - Theory of Ecological Communities - Princeton Univ Press

Nicole - Sugihara et al. (2012) - Detecting causality in complex ecosystems - Science

Jeff - Liang et al. - Positive biodiversity-productivity relationship predominant in global forests - Science

Kabir - Bruns and Taylor - Comment on "Global assessment of arbuscular mycorrhizal fungus diversity reveals very low endemism" - Science

Glade -  Carini et al - Relic DNA is abundant in soil and obscures estimates of soil microbial diversity - Nature Microbiology

Priscilla - Bik et al. - Marine mammals harbor unique microbiotas shaped by and yet distinct from the sea - Nature Communications

Tess - Gonzalez et al - Estimating local biodiversity change: a critique of papers claiming no net loss of local diversity - Ecology

Po-Ju - Barabás et al - The Effect of Intra- and Interspecific Competition on Coexistence in Multispecies Communities - Am Nat

Jes - Spribille et al - Basidiomycete yeasts in the cortex of ascomycete macrolichens - Science

Marta - Wen et al - Explaining the geographical origins of seasonal influenza A (H3N2) - Proc Roy Soc B

Erin - Deyle et al. Global environmental drivers of influenza. - PNAS


Erin presents poster at TropMed 2016


Erin presents poster at TropMed 2016

At this year's American Society for Tropical Medicine and Hygiene meeting I presented a poster about our temperature-dependent R0 model for Aedes aegypti and Ae. albopictus, as applied to Zika, dengue, and chikungunya. Optimal temperature for transmission is 29C, and the effects of temperature are borne out in the human incidence data. Here I am with my co-authors, Sadie Ryan, Anna Stewart Ibarra, and Cat Lippi.



Women in STEM article by high school intern alum

Sandya Kalavacherla, a high school intern in the lab this past summer, wrote a really nice article in Teen Voices about barriers to women in STEM fields, including a quote from yours truly. Check it out!



Jasper Ridge photos

Dan Quinn has put up his favorite Jasper Ridge photos from the past year. I particularly loved #56, in which our experiment makes a cameo behind a famous oak tree.




Come work with me! Postdoc in remote sensing and modeling dengue

A postdoc position is available at Stanford University to use mathematical models, field data, and remote sensing to predict dengue transmission, and to apply the predictive models to improve vector control in Kenya and Ecuador. The postdoc will work with Erin Mordecai (, Desiree LaBeaud (, and Eric Lambin ( on a project funded by the Woods Institute for the Environment’s Environmental Ventures Program ( The appointment is for two years.

The postdoc will work to combine mechanistic, climate-driven models of dengue transmission with remote sensing data to predict dengue transmission in Ecuador and Kenya. The postdoc will collaborate with field researchers and policymakers in Ecuador and Kenya sites to integrate the predictive models into vector control policy. The position will be based at Stanford University, but the postdoc will have the opportunity to travel to Kenya and Ecuador for short periods to meet with policymakers.

Candidates with strong analytical and remote sensing data analysis skills, and backgrounds in ecology, evolution, or infectious disease biology are especially encouraged to apply. The successful candidate will be an independent, highly motivated problem solver who communicates well and enjoys working in a collaborative, interdisciplinary environment.

To apply, please send a cover letter that describes your interest in the project, a curriculum vitae, and the contact information for three references to Erin Mordecai at Please combine all components of the application into a single file and include “EVP postdoc” in the subject line. Review of applications will begin on September 12, 2016 and continue until the position is filled.




Apply now: Vector BiTE RCN's first meeting March 23-25 in Clearwater, FL


Dear colleagues,

We are very pleased to announce the launch of a new NIH/BBSRC funded Research Coordination Network on the role of Vector Behaviour in Transmission Ecology: VectorBiTE.

Over the next 5 years, this RCN will support annual meetings and workshops to promote collaborative research and training in order to improve our understanding of how the behavioural ecology of vectors impacts disease transmission. Additionally, a key component of this effort will be the creation of a global database on vector traits, population dynamics and transmission rates. For more information on our network goals please see:

Our first meeting will take place at in Clearwater, FL from March 23-25, 2015. During this first meeting we will organize participants into working groups and plan the online repository structure. Please register for the RCN on the website and apply for the meeting at We plan to provide travel support for approximately 40 participants to attend. Applications received by February 1 will receive full consideration, although will continue to evaluate applications on a rolling basis until all spaces have been filled. We are pleased to begin this new adventure and look forward to providing a new platform for interaction in this important area.

Exciting time ahead!

Best wishes,

Leah Johnson, Lauren Cator, Erin Mordecai, Samraat Pawar, and Pete Hudson




Vector BiTE RCN goes live!

Want to participate in a new NSF funded Research Coordination Network on Vector Behavior in Transmission Ecology (Vector BiTE)? Visit our splash page to sign up:

The goal of the RCN is to connect researchers in vector ecology, behavior, and physiology across systems and approaches, and to develop an online database for vector trait data and population time series. We welcome researchers at all stages to participate. Our first meeting will take place in Clearwater, FL on March 23-25 and some travel funds are available!


Study: With climate change, malaria risk in Africa shifts, grows


Study: With climate change, malaria risk in Africa shifts, grows

Nov. 24, 2015

GAINESVILLE, Fla. – A larger portion of Africa is currently at high risk for malaria transmission than previously predicted, according to a new University of Florida mapping study.

Under future climate regimes, the area where the disease can be transmitted most easily will shrink, but the total transmission zone will expand and move into new territory, according to the study, which appears in the current issue of the journal Vector-Borne and Zoonotic Diseases.

By 2080, the study shows, the year-round, highest-risk transmission zone will move from coastal West Africa, east to the Albertine Rift, between the Democratic Republic of Congo and Uganda. The area suitable for seasonal, lower-risk transmission will shift north into coastal sub-Saharan Africa.

Most striking, some parts of Africa will become too hot for malaria.

The overall expansion of malaria-vulnerable areas will challenge management of the deadly disease, said lead author Sadie Ryan, an assistant professor of geography at the University of Florida who also is affiliated with UF’s Emerging Pathogens Institute.

Malaria will arrive in new areas, posing a risk to new populations, she said, and the shift of endemic and epidemic areas will require public health management changes.

“Mapping a mathematical predictive model of a climate-driven infectious disease like malaria allows us to develop tools to understand both spatial and seasonal dynamics, and to anticipate the future changes to those dynamics,” Ryan said.

Cerebral malaria, caused by the parasite Plasmodium falciparum transmitted by the Anopheles gambiae mosquito, is the most deadly form of the disease, killing around 584,000 people each year. Malaria can cause organ failure, unconsciousness, and coma, if left untreated, and is a major cause of decreased economic productivity in affected regions.

The study uses a model that takes into account the real, curved, physiological responses of both mosquitoes and the malaria parasite to temperature. This model shows an optimal transmission temperature for malaria that, at 25 degrees Celsius, is 6 degrees Celsius lower than previous predictive models.  

This work will play an important role in helping public health officials and NGOs plan for the efficient deployment of resources and interventions to control future outbreaks of malaria and their associated societal costs, Ryan said.

The collaborative research team includes experts in epidemiology, public health, ecology, entomology, mathematical modeling and geography. In addition to Ryan, other team members are Amy McNally (NASA), Leah Johnson (University of South Florida), Erin A. Mordecai (Stanford University), Tal Ben-Horin (Rutgers), Krijn Paaijmans (Universitat de Barcelona) and Kevin D. Lafferty (University of California, Santa Barbara).

The work expands upon the team’s prior work at the National Center for Ecological Analysis and Synthesis at the University of California, Santa Barbara.


Science Pumpkins


Science Pumpkins

We found a good use for our old fungal cultures, and practiced our knife-wielding skills on some pumpkins last month. Sadly, we did not win any Bio department competitions, but we'll get 'em next year. Fungus Culture pumpkin by Erin Spear, Grass Roots pumpkin by Caroline Daws, and Anopheles gambiae pumpkin by Erin Mordecai.