Basically, our research evaluates how biotic interactions (with a focus on parasitism), affect the distribution and abundance of aquatic species. We am particularly interested in how parasites affect the demographics of their hosts and how community structure is altered by infectious agents. Although parasites are often common aquatic systems, their roles are poorly understood. Much of our research focuses on biological invasions. Introduced species provide a way to test predictions about the ecology and evolution of host-parasite interactions as well as evaluate the effect of parasites in natural communities. Understanding how parasites affect the demographic success of introduced species and exploring the impact of introduced parasites on native communities will help manage biological invasions and emerging diseases. We work on biological invasions in Panama, the Canal, as well as elsewhere; developing a global perspective on factors driving invasions. We also maintain a strong focus on the ecology and evolution of parasites and diseases in marine and estuarine systems, principally within mangroves.
We don't really focus on specific taxa but we do generally tend to work on fish, crabs, snails and their parasites. We also work on sessile marine invertebrate communities.
Representative and Recent Publications
- Miura, O., M.E. Torchin, E. Bermingham, D.K. Jacobs, R.F. Hechinger (in press) Flying shells: historical dispersal of marine snails across Central America. Proceedings of the Royal Society of London doi: 10.1098/rspb.2011.1599
- Freestone, A.L, R.W. Osman, G.M. Ruiz, M.E. Torchin (2011). Stronger predation in tropics shapes species richness patterns in marine communities. Ecology 92: 983-993.
- Roche, D.G., B. Leung, E.F. Mendoza Franco, M.E. Torchin (2010). Higher parasite richness, abundance, and impact in native versus introduced cichlid fishes. International Journal of Parasitology 40:1525–1530
- Ruiz, G.M., M.E. Torchin, K. Grant (2009) Using the Panama Canal to test predictions about tropical marine invasions. Proceedings of the Smithsonian Marine Science Symposium, M. Lang, IG. Macintyre, K. Rutzler eds. Smithsonian Institution Scholarly Press.
- Roche, D.G., M.E. Torchin, B. Leung, S.A. Binning. (2009) Localized invasion of the North American Harris mud crab, Rhithropanopeus harrisii, in the Panama Canal: implications for eradication and spread. Biological Invasions 11:983–993.
- Torchin, M.E. and C.E. Mitchell. 2004. Parasites, pathogens and invasions by plants and animals. Frontiers in Ecology and the Environment 2: 183-190.
- Torchin, M.E., K.D. Lafferty, A.P. Dobson, V.J. McKenzie and A.M. Kuris. 2003. Introduced species and their missing parasites. Nature 421: 628-630.