Charles Darwin studied the beaks of birds such as the medium ground finch,
Geospiza foris, to develop his theory of evolution. Ecological immunologists like
WSU’s Jeb Owen are interested in how the birds’ evolution might be affected
by pathogens causing nest fly lesions and avian pox virus. (Mark Walport photo)
 
 
By Eric Sorensen, Washington State Magazine
 
 
PULLMAN – A WSU assistant professor of entomology is helping pioneer the brave new world of ecological immunology.
 
It’s a shift, said Jeb Owen, from traditional ecological thinking that concentrates on animals’ growth rate, size, territory, habitat and predator-prey relationship. Ecological immunology concentrates more on the deft, fleet-footed challenges posed by some of biology’s greatest survivors – parasites and pathogens.
 
The rise of the field highlights a growing interest in the roles of pathogens in shaping the ecology and evolution of a species.
 
Read more in the spring issue of Washington State Magazine here.