Department of Biological Sciences

Dodge Hall Rm 375
118 Library Dr
Rochester, MI 48309-4479
(location map)
(248) 370-3550
fax: (248) 370-4225


Tom Raffel

Thomas Raffel
Associate Professor, Ph.D.
354 DH
(248) 370-3551
Lab location: 355-357 DH
Lab phone: (248) 370-3547

Raffel lab website 


  • BIO 4380/BIO 5900 Ecological Problem Solving
  • BIO 4381 Ecological Problem Solving Lab
  • BIO 4320 Medical Parasitology
  • BIO 4321 Medical Parasitology Lab
  • BIO 5320 Medical Parasitology/Mycology

 Research: Ecology and Evolution of Parasite-Host Interactions

Parasites have important and underappreciated effects on the ecology and evolution of their hosts, as well as on other members of their ecological communities. I seek to understand how parasites influence the ecology and evolution of their hosts, and how ecological and anthropogenic factors affect parasite-host dynamics. Much of my lab's current research is on the ecology of parasitism in amphibians, with potential implications for the rapid decline of amphibian populations worldwide. Ongoing projects include:

  • Thermal Biology of Parasitism-Temperature variability might have important effects on parasitism in ectothermic hosts, but the effects of host thermal acclimation on parasites remain poorly understood.
  • Host Life History Evolution-Parasites can have surprising effects on host evolution, including changes in reproductive strategies.
  • Aquatic Ecotoxicology-Agricultural and other pollutants can have dramatic consequences for local pond communities, including altered dynamics of snail-borne parasites of frogs and people.
  • Acquired Resistance to Infection-The ability of the vertebrate acquired immune system to develop improved resistance to parasites following repeated exposures has important effects on parasite dynamics.

Other interests include the relative importance of host resistance vs. tolerance to parasites, public perceptions of evolution and climate change, and the application of statistical models in the biological sciences.

Selected Publications:

Molnár, P. K., J.P. Sckrabulis, K.A. Altman and T.R. Raffel. (2017). Thermal performance curves and the metabolic theory of ecology - A practical guide to models and experiments for parasitologists. Journal of Parasitology 103: 423-439. DOI:10.1111/1365-2656.12510.

Stephens, J.P., K.A. Altman, K.A. Berven, S.D. Tiegs and T.R. Raffel. (2017). Bottom-up and trait-mediated effects of resource quality on amphibian parasitism. Journal of Animal Ecology 86: 305-315. DOI:10.1111/1365-2656.12613.

Altman, K.A., S.H. Paull, P.T. Johnson, M.N. Golembieski, J.P. Stephens, B.E. LaFonte and T.R. Raffel. (2016). Host and parasite thermal acclimation responses depend on the stage of infection. Journal of Animal Ecology 85: 1014-1024. DOI: 10.1111/1365-2656.12510.

Stephens, J.P., K.A. Berven, S.D. Tiegs and T.R. Raffel. (2015). Ecological stoichiometry quantitatively predicts responses of tadpoles to a food quality gradient. Ecology 96: 2070-2076. DOI:10.1890/14-2439.1

Paull, S.H., T.R. Raffel, B.E. LaFonte and P.T. J.Johnson. (2015). How temperature shifts affect parasite production: Testing the roles of thermal stress and acclimation. Functional Ecology 29: 941-950. DOI: 10.1111/1365-2435.12401

Raffel, T.R., N.T. Halstead, T.A. McMahon, A.K. Davis and J.R. Rohr. (2015). Temperature variability and moisture synergistically interact to exacerbate an epizootic disease. Proceedings of the Royal Society B - Biological Sciences 282. DOI:10.1098/rspb.2014.2039.

Raffel, T.R., J.M. Romansic, N.T. Halstead, T.A. McMahon, M.D. Venesky and J.R. Rohr. 2013. Disease and thermal acclimation in a more variable and unpredictable climate. Nature Climate Change 3:146-151. DOI: 10.1038/nclimate1659