[Back to Meeting 2006]

Ecological Immunology: Recent Advances and Applications for Conservation and Public Health

Symposium organized by
Kelly A. Lee, Princeton University, Princeton, NJ
Bram Lutton, Boston University, Boston, MA
Martin Wikelski, Princeton University, Princeton, NJ

The field of eco-immunology has been an area of rapid growth over the last decade, and much has been learned about the costs of and variation in immune defenses of wild animals. This has led to new insights into life history evolution, parasite-mediated selection and mating preferences, as well as population and community level phenomena such as disease transmission patterns and biological invasions. Further advances in this area have the potential to provide a better understanding of host and parasite community patterns and processes, including the emergence and spread of new infectious diseases, which could in turn allow us to make better decisions for both conservation and human health.

However, eco-immunology is disjointed, with divisions occurring both along taxonomic lines of the organisms under study, and methodologies used. The large contingent of ecological immunologists focusing on birds and small mammals are often unaware of ongoing research with aquatic vertebrates, and still less so of work with invertebrates. Similarly, ecologists using simple single measurements of immune system function such as the phytohemagglutinin (PHA) swelling assay shy away from the more molecularly oriented work carried out by researchers in the biomedical field. Finally, the growing body of knowledge on MHC variation in free-living populations has not been embraced by eco-immunologists working at the level of whole organisms.

The goals of this symposium are threefold: 1) Foster international and interdisciplinary collaborations between scientists from ecological, immunological, genetic, and medical fields; 2) break down barriers between researchers studying different taxonomic groups; and 3) encourage researchers in all fields to consider conservation and public health applications of their work.

There will also be complementary contributed paper and poster sessions with which we hope to encourage the submission of abstracts from other attendees of the conference. We anticipate that this will foster greater communication and support the goals of the symposium. If you are interested in submitting an abstract for a contributed paper or poster, please do so, and send Symposium co-organizer, Dr. Jacqueline Webb (jacqueline.webb@villanova.edu) a copy of your abstract by the abstract deadline of September 16, 2005.

Symposium Organization, Topics, and Speaker Links
Morning Session: "Conservation applications for ecological immunology"

Kevin Matson (University of Missouri-St. Louis): "Quantifying constitutive, innate immunity: Implications for monitoring population health in wild birds."

Kelly Lee (Princeton University): "Indices of humoral and innate immunity in tropical birds across a disturbance gradient."

Lynn Martin (The Ohio State University): "The immune defenses of wild rodents: model systems for bridging conservation, medicine, and ecophysiology."

Scott Edwards (Harvard University): "Genomics of the major histocompatibility complex in birds."

Laura D. Mydlarz (Cornell University): "The Dynamics of Immunocompetence and Climate Drivers in Coral Response to Disease."

Isabella Cattadori (Penn State University): "The effect of immunity and seasonality on pattern of infection."

Afternoon Session: "Ecological immunology and public health"

Bram Lutton (Boston University): "Endocrine-Immune Interactions and Reproduction in Elasmobranchs: Investigations of the Little Skate, Leucoraja erinacea."

Carol Kim (University of Maine, Orono): "The Role of Arsenic in Modulating Innate Immunity in the Zebrafish".

Dave Townson: (University of New Hampshire): "Immune cell-endothelial cell interactions in the bovine corpus luteum".

John Fahey (Dartmouth Medical School): "Sex Hormone regulation of innate immunity in the female reproductive tract."

Cathy Walsh (Mote Marine Laboratory): "The Immune System of Elasmobranch Fishes."