Institution or affiliation:
Wildlife Ecology and Conservation Group, Wageningen University
I am an Associate Professor in the Wildlife Ecology and Conservation Group at Wageningen University (The Netherlands). I completed my Ph.D. under the supervision of Robert Ricklefs at the University of Missouri, St. Louis (USA). Prior to that I earned my M.S. in Avian Sciences at the University of California, Davis (USA) and my Bachelor of Science in Public Health at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill (USA).
My work straddles two disparate biological fields that people may not associate: ecology and immunology. One the one hand, ecology is a science of wildlife, the great outdoors, and rubber-boot-wearing researchers with binoculars around their necks. On the other hand, immunology is a quintessential lab-oriented domain with researchers often donning stereotypic white lab coats. As an “ecological immunologist,” I am comfortable in both realms. My work investigating how the environment in which animals live shapes their immunological defenses has taken me to field sites and labs around the world. I have caught, measured, and sampled wild birds on isolated oceanic islands, in the center of a large American city, and in the Dutch countryside, among other places. My colleagues and I then process the collected samples in the field or in a basic “field lab.” Once secured, the samples are shipped home to be analyzed in well-equipped university laboratories. I have worked to develop analytical methods that stand up to the logistical challenges associated with wildlife ecology research, specifically research on wild birds. These challenges include working with diverse non-model species that are often small and difficult to capture once, let alone regularly recapture for follow-up measurements. By advancing available methods, my colleagues and I have begun to expose how the diversity of immune defenses is mirrored by biodiversity itself. Through ecological and evolutionary mechanisms, animals adapt their defenses to when, where, and how they live.
by Dan Chamberlain | Jul 25, 2022