Chelsea Wood

  • Assistant Professor, SAFS

Research areas

My research program explores the ecology of parasites and pathogens in a changing world. I address several questions with practical applications to marine and freshwater conservation, as well as essential value for ecological theory. First, does loss of biodiversity generally increase or decrease parasite transmission? In other words, do human impacts on biodiversity increase the prevalence of parasites by eroding natural “checks and balances” on transmission or decrease prevalence when they remove the free-living biodiversity on which parasites depend? Second, if – as recent data suggest – biodiversity loss has variable effects on transmission across parasites, what factors predict disease outcomes? Might transmission strategy of the parasite, the magnitude or timing of biodiversity loss, or the scale of observation influence whether transmission increases, decreases, or remains unchanged in response to an environmental impact? Answers to these questions are urgently needed as global change accumulates and as the perceived threat of infectious disease grows.

You can find out more about my research on my lab website.



  • Ecology of parasites and pathogens
  • Effects of environmental change on disease transmission
  • Marine and freshwater biology
  • Schistosomiasis and other zoonoses
  • Spatial ecology
  • Biodiversity
  • Conservation biology


Selected publications

  • Wood CL, Sokolow S, Jones I, Chamberlin A, Lafferty KD, KurisAM, Jocque M, Hopkins S, Adams G, Buck JC, LundA, Garcia-Vedrenne AE, Fiorenza E**, Rohr JR, Allan F, Webster B, Rabone M, Webster JP, Bandagny L, Ndione R, Senghor S, SchachtA-M, Jouanard N, Riveau G, and De Leo G. 2019. Precision mapping of snail habitat provides a powerful indicator of human schistosomiasis transmission. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the USA 116: 23182–91.

  • Wood CL, McInturff A, Young HS, Kim DH, and Lafferty KD. 2017. Human infectious disease burdens decrease with urbanization but not with biodiversity. Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B 372: 20160117.

  • Wood CL, 2014. Environmental change and the ecology of infectious disease. Science 346: 1192.

  • Wood CL, Sandin S, Zgliczynski B, Guerra AS, and Micheli F. 2014. Fishing drives declines in fish parasite diversity and has variable effects on parasite abundance. Ecology 95: 1929-46.

  • Wood CL, and Lafferty KD. 2013. Biodiversity and disease: A synthesis of ecological perspectives on Lyme disease transmission. Trends in Ecology and Evolution 28: 239-47.

  • Wood CL, Byers JE, Cottingham KL, Altman I, Donahue MJ, and Blakeslee AMH. 2007. Parasites alter community structure. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences USA 104: 9335-39.