Dakeishla M. Diaz-Morales
Faculty of Biology
BIOMOD: How bioinvasions and parasites modulate the effects of climate change on benthic communities.
BIOMOD aims to determine how competition and grazing respond to the combined effects of climate change, bioinvasion, epiphytism, and parasitism in benthic communities from the Baltic Sea and the Levant. As part of my doctoral studies, I am focusing on the role of parasites as potential amplifiers or shock absorbers of the effects of global change on marine intertidal communities.
We are particularly interested in the effect of temperature on the various components of the life cycle of the trematode Himasthla elongata. Additionally, we are interested in the effect this parasite has on the grazing behavior of Littorina littorea concerning the invasive alga Agarophyton vermiculophyllum and the native alga Fucus vesiculosus at different temperatures. Another host-parasite system being explored is the invasive gammarid Gammarus tigrinus and the native gammarid G. locusta and its parasite Podocotyle atomon.
Concerning the Levant, the hottest edge of the Mediterranean, we are interested in the parasites of invasive species such as the fish Siganus rivulatus and the snail Cerithium scabridum, as well as the native snail C. vulgatum. The combination of these two regions, the Baltic Sea and the Levant, allows us to compare two areas that are exposed to drastically different conditions. Therefore, it gives us insight into the importance of species' ecological and environmental context in terms of the relationships between climate change and species interactions and the consequences for ecosystem functions.