GCRL Parasitology Group

The Parasitology Group in the Coastal Sciences Department applies theory and fact, coupled with practical skill in chemistry, physiology, taxonomy, ecology, genetics, and molecular biology to expand knowledge of our coastal and Gulf of Mexico biome. Parasites can serve as a "Miner'' Canary" - they are a sensitive indicator of the quality of the environment for other forms of life. The conditions under which parasites live and prosper, or do not, offer great insight into the fluxes of life and ecology along the Gulf Coast. Our research projects study parasites in order to reach conclusions about the entire community of flora and fauna in our environment.

Robin Overstreet

Dr. Robin Overstreet searching for parasites on a great blue heron.
Dr. Robin Overstreet searching for parasites on a great blue heron.

 

Dr. Robin Overstreet has directed the parasitology group at the GCRL since 1969. Dr. Overstreet is the most prominent organismal animal parasitologist in North America and is one of the most respected parasitologists in the world today. He is one of three scientists featured in GCRL's “Pioneers in Marine and Fisheries Research” series.

Dr. Overstreet leads an active group of scientists and four Ph.D. students. Most of their work involves parasitic flatworms or flukes, known to scientists as the Trematodes, a class of parasitic worms in the phylum Platyhelminthes. The group studies evolutionary relationships among the worms, describes new species, investigates life-histories of parasites, and assesses the effects of parasites on their hosts. The research involves parasites from all over North America and the world.

Because of the close relationship between parasites and their hosts, the study of parasites typically involves study of host animals as well, as shown in the descriptions of parasitology research at GCRL.