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Indiana University Bloomington

Department of Biology

Faculty & Research

Faculty Profile

Spencer Hall

Photo of Spencer Hall
Research Images
Research photo by Spencer Hall

Daphnia dentifera infected with a fungal parasite.

Research photo by Spencer Hall

Experimental mesocosms used to test stoichometric food web theory.

Professor of Biology

IU Affiliations
Kellogg Biological Station, Michigan State University

Contact Information
By telephone: 812-855-6009/5-6013(lab)
JH 239B/239(Lab)

Hall Lab website

Program
Evolution, Ecology & Behavior
Research Area
Ecology
Education

BS, Cornell University, 1997

PhD, University of Chicago, 2003

Post-doctoral Research Associate, University of Illinois, 2003-2005

Awards

 

2010 Mercer Award from the Ecological Society of America (best paper by author under 40)

2012 Indiana University Trustees Teaching Award

 

Research Description

I study interactions between species and their environment at population, community, and ecosystem levels. I use freshwater plankton to study these interactions. Plankton provide an ideal system because they interact strongly, are readily manipulated in the lab and field, reproduce quickly, and supply crucial functioning to freshwater ecosystems.

My research program hinges on: (1) development of mathematical models; (2) experimental tests of those in both the laboratory and the field; and (3) surveys of natural systems. Combined, these approaches help me rigorously test logical, relevant ideas.

Currently, I run two main research projects:

1. Disease Ecology of Daphnia:

We are studying the influence of infectious disease on population dynamics and community interactions. Our work focuses on the determinants of spatial and temporal dynamics of bacterial and fungal epidemics in Daphnia. This work relies on combination of community ecology, physical limnology, and epidemiological modeling. Current projects consider:

  1. interactions between hosts and their food resources, their parasites, and their predators
  2. spatial variability of parasitism among and between lake systems
  3. temperature, physiology, and turbulence as determinants of the timing of epidemics, and
  4. parasitism as a driver of selection on hosts.

Collaborators: Carla Cáceres (U of Illinois), Alan Tessier (NSF), Meghan Duffy and Marianne Huebner (Michigan State), and Sally MacIntyre (U of California-Santa Barbara).

2. Food Web Stoichiometry:

We are developing and testing new theory focused around the intersection of ecological stoichiometry and food webs. The stoichiometric approach explores the consequences in mismatches in the elemental composition of grazers and plants. It also considers how supply of resources, especially nutrients and light, can set the stage for these mismatches.Most of our work examines the ability of stoichiometric models to explain:

  1. dynamics of algae and zooplankton
  2. changes of community composition of both grazers and producers
  3. ecosystem-level response to supply of light and nutrients, and
  4. response of plant stoichiometry to resource supply gradients.

Collaborators: Mathew Leibold (U of Texas-Austin), David Lytle (Oregon State), Val Smith (U of Kansas)

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