Marine Parasitology and Disease

Course Dates

July 13, 2020 to August 16, 2020


One semester of college-level biology or equivalent.

Equivalent Note

COVID-19 COURSE CHANGE: This course has been transitioned to a hybrid (online and on-island) course. Please note the new course dates.
Online dates: July 13 - August 10
On-island dates: August 10 - 16

Course Description

Photo of SML Parasite Ecology Intern working in the lab to extract parasites from a green crab
Collin Love, 2017 Parasite Ecology Intern, extracting parasites from a green crab.

This course will focus on one of the most diverse and fascinating groups of marine organisms—parasites. The course will explore marine parasites and pathogens at multiple levels, including: (1) the evolutionary perspective with an emphasis on co-evolutionary relationships; (2) parasitic diseases and life cycles (from simple to complex); (3) taxonomic and phylogenetic understanding of parasite and host groups (with a focus on metazoan parasites and hosts); (4) ecological implications of parasitism in marine systems—at the population, community, and ecosystem levels; and (5) the effects of human-induced global change on parasitism in marine communities.

Students enrolled in Marine Parasitology and Disease will:

  • Understand science as a way of knowing (i.e. test ideas using evidence gathered from the natural world).
  • Learn fundamental facts, concepts, and theories in marine parasitology and disease.
  • Understand evolutionary and ecological importance of parasites/pathogens in marine systems.
  • Learn preparation and microscopy skills for parasite observations and identifications.
  • Explore host and parasite diversity in the local marine environment.


Dr. April Blakeslee:

Assistant Professor, Biology Department, East Carolina University

Photo of Dr. April Blakeslee with Blakeslee Lab members on Appledore in 2017

The Blakeslee Lab on Appledore in 2017. Dr. Blakeslee is center.

Dr. April Blakeslee is a marine ecologist and conservation biologist, focusing on invasion biology, parasite ecology, evolutionary ecology, and biogeography. As an Assistant Professor in the Biology Department at East Carolina University (Greenville, NC), she has developed a diverse research program involving undergraduate and graduate students. Specific to parasites, Dr. Blakeslee explores global distribution patterns and biogeography, population genetics and population ecology in native and non-native populations, community ecology and host-parasite interactions of native and non-native organisms (including host behavior, physiology, and genetics), and parasites as conservation tools. She has been performing research at SML on marine parasitology and disease for the past 15 years.

Dr. Amy Fowler:

Assistant Professor, Department of Environmental Science and Policy, George Mason University

Photo - Amy Fowler faculty Parasites

Dr. Fowler’s general research interests and experiences include global aquatic invertebrate species patterns, biodiversity, phenotypic plasticity, parasitology, and community and population level interactions of aquatic invertebrates, especially those concerning invasions. She has experience working in freshwater, estuarine, and marine systems both in the United States and globally. Currently, her laboratory at GMU has three main topics of study: host-parasite interactions, invasion dynamics and processes, and natural resource management of commercially and recreationally important aquatic invertebrate species.



Course Numbers

Cornell: BIOSM 3330 (3 Credits)
UNH: MEFB 506 (4 Credits)