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Parasites and their hosts in our changing climate

My name is Dr. Colin MacLeod, and I work as a postdoctoral research fellow in the Harley lab at the Biodiversity Research Centre at the University of British Columbia.

My research basically fits under the very broad question of how climate change will affect the association between parasites and their hosts. So to answer this question I can expose infected and uninfected individuals of the same species to climate change related stressors and find out if external forces caused by climate change, combined with internal forces caused by the parasite, increases the mortality of infected individuals.

My favourite research memory? I once cycled around Vancouver Island looking for infected snails. I attached a trailer to the back of my bike, packed it full of science equipment—possibly too much science equipment because it weighed a ton. So every day I would collect snails, and every night I would sit in the tent to look at the snails under the field microscopic, take pictures on my laptop, and usually share the images with my friends on Facebook.

My favourite organisms are marine trematode parasites without a doubt. I've been studying this group of organisms for my entire research career. Each trematode species uses a suite of organisms to complete its life cycle, and each life cycle contains up to six different life stages that each have their own unique morphological and behavioral characteristics.

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