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Clarkson University Professor Invited to Speak on the Fate of Marine Organisms in a Warmer Ocean at Prestigious Biology Conference

A Clarkson University professor has been invited to speak on how climate change will affect survival and dispersal of marine parasites, at the Society for Integrative and Comparative Biology (SICB) annual meeting.

Andrew DavidAssistant Professor and Director of Freshman Biology Andrew David will present "Projected Dispersal and Range Expansion of a Potentially Invasive Polychaete in South Africa" at the January meeting in Portland, Ore.

Polychaete worms are the dominant animal of many marine habitats and are often used as pollution indicators in ecological studies, but they are also notorious parasites of commercially important shellfish such as oysters and scallops.

The symposium, "Parasites and Pests in Motion: Biology, Biodiversity and Climate Change," aims to foster a better understanding of the impact of climate change on diverse host and parasite relationships, including modeling and prediction of how their distributions may change in the future.

David said populations of marine life are structured by various forces, such as the temperature of the water. Climate change, however, could disrupt thermal barriers and circulation patterns, introducing parasites to new host species.

"Populations could become more homogenized, which decreases microevolutionary potential," he said. "Genetic homogenization also decreases resilience to environmental disturbances, effectively being a potential threat to biodiversity."

While David's work focuses on parasites in shellfish populations, researchers at the conference will also present on the consequences of climate change on parasites in other animal and human populations. David said he is looking forward to hearing some of the top evolutionary biologists in the field present their findings.

SICB fosters research, education, public awareness and understanding of living organisms from molecules and cells to ecology and evolution. SICB encourages interdisciplinary cooperative research that integrates across scales, and new models and methodologies to enhance research and education.

Clarkson University launches leaders into the global economy. One in five alumni already leads as a CEO, VP or equivalent senior executive of a company. Located just outside the Adirondack Park in Potsdam, N.Y., Clarkson is a nationally recognized research university for undergraduates with select graduate programs in signature areas of academic excellence directed toward the world’s pressing issues. Through 50 rigorous programs of study in engineering, business, arts, sciences and the health professions, the entire learning-living community spans boundaries across disciplines, nations and cultures to build powers of observation, challenge the status quo, and connect discovery and engineering innovation with enterprise.

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