Kevin Lafferty

Adjunct Faculty / US Geological Survey
(805) 893 8778
2308 MSRB


Since 1998, I've worked as an Ecologist with the US Geological Survey. I’ve been at UCSB more or less since I came as an undergraduate in 1981 and then got my Ph.D here in 1991. I have an office and laboratory on campus at UCSB’s Marine Science Institute. As a full-time research scientist, I don’t teach courses on campus, but I do co-supervise Ph.D students in conjunction with other EEMB faculty. My main collaborators on campus are in the Ecological Parasitology Group and in the Marine Science Institute. Potential graduate students should email me directly to inquire about availability.


I use a combination of field studies, laboratory observation, mathematical modeling and literature synthesis to address ecological questions. I’ve been spending time on the following questions:

  • What are the interactions between fishing and infectious diseases?
  • What determines communities of parasites in estuaries?
  • What is the effect of climate change on infectious diseases?
  • How does infectious disease interact with biodiversity loss?
  • What are the consequences when parasites manipulate host behavior?
  • How can we improve food-web theory to account for parasites?
  • How can we build food webs with parasites?
  • How can we improve consumer-resource models?
  • How does infectious disease affect abalone populations?
  • How can we protect shorebirds on recreational beaches?
  • How can we preserve metapopulations of endangered tidewater gobies?
  • What factors structure kelp forest communities?

Selected Publications

  • Lafferty, K.D., Kuris, A.M., 1993. Mass mortality of abalone Haliotis cracherodii on the California Channel Islands: Tests of epidemiological hypotheses. Mar. Ecol. Prog. Ser. 96, 239–248.
  • Lafferty, K.D., Morris, A.K., 1996. Altered behavior of parasitized killifish increases susceptibility to predation by bird final hosts. Ecology 77, 1390–1397.Lafferty, K.D., Kuris, A.M., 2002. Trophic strategies, animal diversity and body size. Trends Ecol. Evol. 17, 507–513.
  • Lafferty, K.D., Swift, C.C., Ambrose, R.F., 1999. Extirpation and recolonization in a metapopulation of an endangered fish, the tidewater goby. Conserv. Biol. 13, 1447–1453.
  • Torchin, M.E., Lafferty, K.D., Dobson, A.P., McKenzie, V.J., Kuris, A.M., 2003. Introduced species and their missing parasites. Nature 421, 628–630.
  • Lafferty, K.D., 2004. Fishing for lobsters indirectly increases epidemics in sea urchins. Ecological Applications 14, 1566–1573.
  • Lafferty, K. D., Goodman, D., Sandoval, C.P., 2006. Restoration of breeding by snowy plovers following protection from disturbance. Biodiversity and Conservation 15, 2217–2230.
  • Lafferty, K D, Dobson, A.P., Kuris, A.M., 2006. Parasites dominate food web links. Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. USA 103, 11211–11216.
  • Kuris, A.M., Hechinger, R.F., Shaw, J.C., Whitney, K.L., Aguirre-Macedo, L., Boch, C.A., Dobson, A.P., Dunham, E.J., Fredensborg, B.L., Huspeni, T.C., Lorda, J., Mababa, L., Mancini, F., Mora, A.B., Pickering, M., Talhouk, N.L., Torchin, M.E., Lafferty, K.D., 2008. Ecosystem energetic implications of parasite and free-living biomass in three estuaries. Nature 454, 515–518.
  • Lafferty, K.D., 2009. The ecology of climate change and infectious diseases. Ecology 90, 888–900.
  • Lafferty, K.D., 2010. Interacting parasites. Science 330, 187–188.

External Publication List

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