The Ecology and Health Lab studies ecological patterns and processes that affect plant, animal and human populations. We consist of a vibrant multidisciplinary team lead by Dr. Paul Leisnham, and that consists of graduate students from ENST, MEES and BEES graduate programs and undergraduate assistants.
Because human and ecosystem health are intrinsically linked, we are interested in processes that are affected both by human disruptions (e.g., climate change, land use change, and globalization) and that present social, economic, and health risks. Environmental change provides a great opportunity to ask both applied and basic science questions.
From a practical perspective, understanding changing environments is vital for alleviating undesirable ecological and health effects, and to exploit potential positive effects. From a basic perspective, environmental change provides a great opportunity to study nonequilibrium systems and thus test hypotheses of how physical and biotic interactions affect all ecological units, from individual species through to ecosystem processes.
Most of our research focuses on the ecology of native and invasive mosquitoes in water-filled containers, wetlands, and drainage systems. We are kindly funded by state and federal agencies, including the Maryland Department of Natural Resources, USGS, USDA, and NSF. We also enjoy collaborate with professionals within UMD and external institutions.
The lab has recently been funded for a project that studies socioeconomic and ecological determinants of mosquito production in urban neighborhoods so that education outreach can more effectively help households minimize their risk to mosquito-borne diseases, such as West Nile encephalitis. Another project involves testing design features of retention and detention ponds so that mosquito production can be minimized in residential neighborhoods. Emergent wetland plants may facilitate or act as barriers to mosquito production by altering food resources or refuge from predators. Knowing how plants affect mosquito production why inform ecological restoration and stormwater management.