Michael V.K. Sukhdeo
Department of Ecology, Evolution, and Natural Resources
84 Lipman Drive
School of Environmental and Biological Sciences
Rutgers,The State University
of New Jersey
New Brunswick , New Jersey 08901
848-932-9406 (office) 848-932-3760 (lab)


Dec. 2018


Halloween 2014
Trematode life cycle!

Life cycle2014


MSc, McGill University 1977
PhD, McGill University 1981

Current Research:

      I am interested in how parasites fit into ecological food webs. Food web theory has developed over the last 80 years without much consideration being given to the role of parasites because ecologists generally assumed that parasites were too small to be a significant force in the structuring of communities. However, it is now indisputable that the negative effects of parasites on individual hosts can cascade up to the population and community levels. Nevertheless, integrating parasites into modern food web theory has been problematic. After almost a century of ignoring parasites, it has proven difficult to retrofit parasites into the complicated theory and equations that have evolved in this field.

     I argue that the same thermodynamic principles that govern all organisms in an ecosystem should also govern all parasite interactions. This conception of energy flow as the major structuring force in ecosystems (Lindeman, 1947; Teal, 1953; Odum, 1953) is a fundamental principle that still underlies all food web theory. Thus, I propose a return to the ideas of community organization first articulated by the early ecologists, and the undertaking of rigorous studies that incorporate parasites into these early models. At the Center for Research on Animal Parasites (C.R.A.P.), we investigate patterns of energy flow through aquatic ecosystems to get reliable and empirical estimates of the energetic costs of parasitism at all levels of organization.

Current Students

Suzanne Sukhdeo , Research Scientist

Past Students

Brian Johnson, MSc Student (2012)
Wayne D. Rossiter, PhD Student
Christen McCoy, MSc. (2010)
Tavis K. Anderson, Ph.D. (2009)
Stacey E. Lettini, Ph.D. (2009)
Alexander D. Hernandez, Ph.D.  (2006)

Darcy Medica, Ph.D. (2002)

Anne D. Keating (nee Bansemir), Ph.D. (2001)
Thushara Chandrasiri, M.Sc. (1994)

Past Lab Photos

Recent publications:

Anderson, T.K., & Sukhdeo, M.V.K. (2013).  Qualitative community stability determines parasite establishment and richness in estuarine marshes.  PeerJ 1: e92.

Anderson, T.K., & Sukhdeo, M.V.K.  (2013).  The relationship between community species richness and the diversity of the parasite community in Fundulus heteroclitus.  Journal of Parasitology 99: 391-396.

Rossiter, W. and M.V.K. Sukhdeo. 2013 Habitat-based constraints on food web structure and parasite life cycles, Oecologia. (DOI) 10.1007/s00442-013-2835-0.

Johnson B.J. and Sukhdeo M.V.K. 2013. Drought-induced amplification of yearly West Nile virus infection rates in New Jersey (USA). Journal of Medical Entomology. 50(1):195-204.

Johnson B.J. and Sukhdeo M.V.K. 2013.  Successional mosquito dynamics in surrogate treehole and ground-container habitats in the northeastern United States: Where does Aedes albopictus fit in? Journal of Vector Ecology 38 (1): 168-174.

Rossiter, W. and M.V.K. Sukhdeo. 2012. Host quality and spatial patterning in infections of the Eastern mudsnail (Ilyanassa obsoleta) by two trematodes (Himasthla quissetensis and Zoogonus rubellus). Journal of Parasitology 98(2):245-5567.

Sukhdeo, M.V.K. 2012.  Where are the parasites in food webs?  Parasites & Vectors  5:239-256.  DOI: 10.1186/1756-3305-5-239. URL: http://www.parasitesandvectors.com/content/5/1/239.

Johnson B.J., Mylecraine K., Shapell L., Tsipoura N., Robson M., Ehrenfeld J., Sukhdeo M.V.K. 2012. The roles of mosquito and bird communities on the prevalence of West Nile virus in urban wetland and residential habitats. Urban Ecosystems 15: 513-531.

Anderson T.K., Sukhdeo M.V.K. (2011) Host Centrality in Food Web Networks Determines Parasite Diversity. PLoS ONE 6(10): e26798. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0026798.

Rossiter, W. and. Sukhdeo M.V.K.  2011. Exploitation of asymmetric predator–prey interactions by trophically transmitted parasites. Oikos 120: 607–614.

Sukhdeo, M.V.K. 2010.  Foodwebs for Parasitologists.  A Review.  Journal of Parasitology 96: 273-284.

Lettini, S.E. and Sukhdeo, M.V.K.  2010.  The energetic cost of parasitism in a population of isopods. Ecoscience 17:1-8.

Anderson, T.K. and Sukhdeo M.V.K. 2010 Abiotic versus biotic hierarchies in the assembly of parasite populations. Parasitology 137: 743–754.

Rossiter, W. and Sukhdeo, M.V.K. 2010. Exploitation of asymmetric predator-prey interactions by trophically transmitted parasites. Oikos, in press.

Sukhdeo, M.V.K. 2010. Foodwebs for Parasitologists. A Review. Journal of Parasitology 96: 273-284.

Lettini, S.E. and Sukhdeo, M.V.K. 2010. The energetic cost of parasitism in a population of isopods. Ecoscience 17:1-8.

Sukhdeo, M.V.K. and Sukhdeo, S.C. (2009)  What does a parasite see when it looks at chimpanzee? In: Primate Parasite Ecology: The Dynamics and Study of Host-Parasite Relationships , Eds. Chapman, C. and Huffman, M. Cambridge University Press, p. 113-140.

Hernandez, A.D. and Sukhdeo, M.V.K. (2008)  Parasite effects on isopod feeding rates can alter the host's functional role in a natural stream ecosystem. International Journal for Parasitology 38: 683-690.

Lettini, S.E. and Sukhdeo, M.V.K.  (2006)  Anhydrobiosis increases survival of Trichostrongyle nematodes.  Journal of Parasitology 92: 1002-1009.

Hernandez, A.D., Bunnell, J.F., and Sukhdeo, M.V.K.  (2006) Composition and diversity patterns in metazoan parasite communities and anthropogenic disturbance in stream ecosystems.  Parasitology 134: 91-102.  Supplemental materials (Tables 1-6) can be downloaded here.

Sukhdeo, M.V.K., and Hernandez, A.D. (2005) Food Web Patterns and the Parasite’s Perspective . In: Parasitism and Ecosystems (Eds. F. Thomas, J.F. Guegan, and F. Renaud). pp. 54-67. Oxford University Press.

Sukhdeo, M.V.K., and Sukhdeo, S.C. (2004) Trematode behaviours and the perceptual world of parasites.  Canadian Journal of Zoology 82: 292-315.

Thomas, F., and Sukhdeo, M. (2003)  Fecal mass and parasite strategies: A response from M. Sukhdeo and F. Thomas.  Trends in Parasitology 19: 69.

Thomas, F., Brown, S.P., Sukhdeo, M. and Renaud, F. (2002)  Understanding parasite strategies: the need for a state dependent approach.  Trends in Parasitology 18: 387-390. 

Sukhdeo, M.V.K. , Sukhdeo, S.C., and Bansemir, A.D. (2002) Interactions between intestinal nematodes and their hosts. In : The Behavioural Ecology of Parasites (Eds. J.F. Campbell, E.D. Lewis, and M.V.K. Sukhdeo). CAB International, pp. 223-242.

Lewis, E.E., Campbell, J.F., and Sukhdeo, M.V.K. (2002)  Parasite behavioural ecology in a field of diverse perspectives. In: The Behavioural Ecology of  Parasites (Eds. J. Cambell, E.D. Lewis, and M.V.K. Sukhdeo). CAB International, pp.337-346.

Sukhdeo, M.V.K. and Sukhdeo, S.C. (2002) Fixed behaviors and migration in parasitic flatworms. International Journal for Parasitology 32 : 329-342.

Bansemir, A.D. and Sukhdeo, M.V.K. (2001) The food resource of Nippostrongylus brasiliensis . Journal of Parasitology 87: 1470-1473.

Medica, D. and Sukhdeo, M.V.K. (2001) Estimating transmission potential in gastrointestinal nematodes (Order Strongylida). Journal of Parasitology 87 : 442-445.

Sukhdeo, M.V.K. (2000) Inside the vertebrate host: Ecological strategies by parasites living in the third environment. In: Evolutionary Biology of Host-Parasite Relationships: Theory Meets Reality (Eds. R. Poulin, S. Morand, & A. Skorping). Developments in Animal and Veterinary Sciences 32 :43-62.

Sukhdeo, S.C., Sukhdeo, M.V.K.,Black, M., Vrijenhoek, R. (1997) The evolution of tissue-migration in parasitic nematodes (Nematoda:Strongylida) inferred from a protein-coding mitochondrial gene. Biological Journal of Linnean Society 61 :281-298.

Sukhdeo, M.V.K. (1997) Earth'sThird Environment: A Worm's Eye View! Bioscience 47 : 141-149.

Last updated Mar. 29, 2019.