Archive for the News Category

Race and Ecology – Dr. Joe Madison publishes in new issue of Harbinger: A Journal of Social Ecology

The issue features nine timely contributions, all exploring social ecological perspectives on race, racism, and colonialism. Taking aim at the intersection of genetic determinism and racial categorization, Joe Madison’s “Individualized Medicine as Racial Eugenics: A Critical Appraisal” suggests that social ecology offers an alternative epistemology to current medicine trends that reinforce essentialist and deterministic notions of identity, social control, and reduction of genetic diversity.

Harnessing the microbiome to prevent global biodiversity loss – reviewed in Nature Microbiology

Nature Microbiology publishes a joint review encompassing the careful and responsible management of ecosystem resources using the microbiome (termed microbiome stewardship) to rehabilitate organisms and ecosystem functions.

Peixoto RS, Voolstra CR, Sweet M, Duarte CM, Carvalho S, Villela H, Lunshof JE, Gram L, Woodhams DC, Walter J, Roik A, Hentschel U, Vega Thurber R, Daisley B, Ushijima B, Daffonchio D, Costa R, Keller-Costa T, Bowman JS, Rosado AS, Reid G, Mason CE, Walke JB, Thomas T, Berg G. (2022) Harnessing the microbiome to prevent global biodiversity loss. Nature Microbiology.

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Habitat split as a driver of disease in amphibians – reviewed in Biological Reviews

We highlight that targeted habitat-restoration strategies aiming to connect multiple classes of natural habitats (e.g. terrestrialfreshwater, terrestrialmarine, marinefreshwater) could enhance priming of the vertebrate immune system through repeated low-load exposure to enzootic pathogens and reduced stress-induced immunosuppression.

Becker CG, Greenspan SE, Martins RA, Lyra ML, Prist P, Metzger JP, São Pedro V, Haddad CFB, Le Sage EH, Woodhams DC, Savage AE. Habitat split as a driver of disease in amphibians. Biological Reviews.

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Woodhams lab contributes to Animal Microbiome publication

In a new study published in Animal Microbiome, the Woodhams lab contributed to the discovery that threatened amphibians carried lower skin bacterial diversity, after accounting for key environmental and host factors. The consistency of our findings across continents suggests the broad scale at which low bacteriome diversity may compromise pathogen defenses in species already burdened with the threat of extinction.

Greenspan SE, Peloso P, Fuentes-Gonzalez JA, Bletz M, Lyra ML, Machado IF, Martins RA, Medina D, Moura-Campos D, Neely WJ, Preuss J, Sturaro MJ, Vaz RI, Navas CA, Felipe Toledo L, Tozetti AM , Vences M, Woodhams DC, Haddad CFB, Pienaar J , Becker CG. 2022. Low microbiome diversity in threatened amphibians from two biodiversity hotspots. Animal Microbiome, (2022) 4:69.

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Congratulations to graduate students finishing in 2022 and advancing their careers. Dr. Brandon LaBumbard (now at Arcaea), Aura Muñiz (Ph.D. student at Purdue University), and Julia McCartney (now at GRO Bio).

Project Titles

LaBumbard: Host-Pathogen Interactions in a Changing World: Microbes, Mucosal Defenses, and Multiple Hosts



Compassionate Conservation in the Woodhams Lab

To facilitate creative disease ecology research, and to encourage compassionate solutions from the next generation of conservation researchers,

the Woodhams lab will place a moratorium on animal infection experiments beginning in 2023.

By not attending to the holobiont, reductionist lab experiments may misconstrue outcomes affecting collectives such as populations, communities, or species.

By focusing on wholistic natural relationships over reductionist approaches we believe we can attain more rapid progress toward disease mitigation and personalized medicine.

Rather than euthanasia, researchers interested in obtaining healthy adult Ambystoma maculatum or other species from our lab should contact for transfer of animals to new IACUC approved protocols.

Localized carry-over effects of pond drying on survival, growth, and pathogen defenses in amphibians.

Woodhams lab and SERDP project on climate change impacts on amphibians published in EcoSphere. Mmultifaceted effects of climate change on pathogen defenses are increasingly relevant as emerging infectious diseases threaten global biodiversity.

Le Sage EH, Ohmer MEB, LaBumbard BC, Altman KA Reinert LK, Bednark JG, Bletz MC, Inman B, Lindauer A, McDonnell NB, Parker SK, Skerlec SM, Wantman T, Rollins-Smith LA, Woodhams DC, Voyles J, Richards-Zawacki CL. (2022) Localized carry-over effects of pond drying on survival, growth, and pathogen defenses in amphibians. ECOSPHERE.

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Research Assistant Professor Patrick Kearns joins Woodhams lab

Dr. Pat Kearns to contribute expertise in soil and salt marsh microbial ecology to study of amphibian disease resilience as a new Research Assistant Professor in the Woodhams lab and member of RIBBiTR –

Resilience Institute Bridging Biological Training and Research

Uncovering Mechanisms of Resilience to Global Change

Once a reservoir, always a reservoir? Seasonality affects the pathogen maintenance potential of amphibian hosts

We found that the mechanisms that drive seasonal prevalence were different from those driving seasonal infection intensity. Seasonal variation in Bd prevalence was driven primarily by changes in host contact rates associated with breeding migrations to and from aquatic habitat. In contrast, seasonal changes in infection intensity were driven by temperature-induced changes in Bd growth rate.

Wilber MQ, Ohmer MEB, Altman KA, Brannelly LA, LaBumbard BC, Le Sage EH, McDonnell NB, Muñiz Torres AY, Nordheim CL, Pfab F, Richards-Zawacki CL, Rollins-Smith LA, Saenz V, Voyles J, Wetzel DP, Woodhams DC, Briggs CJ. (2022) Once a reservoir, always a reservoir? Seasonality affects the pathogen maintenance potential of amphibian hosts. Ecology, May 20:e3759.

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Effects of captivity and rewilding on amphibian skin microbiomes

One species exhibiting a large skin microbiome shift in captivity is the variable harlequin frog, Atelopus varius. A soft-release of A. varius to outdoor mesocosms “restored” the microbiome through time, and frogs also increased antifungal function of their skin microbiome with time in mesocosms. Rewilding the microbiome may influence resistance to diseases such as chytridiomycosis.

Kueneman J, Bletz M, Becker M, Gratwicke B, Garcés OA, Hertz A, Holden WM, Ibáñez R, Loudon A, McKenzie V, Parfrey L, Sheafor B, Rollins-Smith LA, Richards-Zawacki C, Voyles J, Woodhams DC. (2022) Effects of captivity and rewilding on amphibian skin microbiomes. Biological Conservation, 271.

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Douglas C. Woodhams, Ph.D.
Assistant Professor
UMass Boston | Department of Biology
100 Morrissey Blvd.
Boston, Massachusetts 02125
Phone: 617-287-6679