Ryan Hechinger

Associate Research Biologist, Marine Science Institute & Dept. Ecology, Evolution, Marine Biology

Ecological and evolutionary parasitology/community and evolutionary ecology/digenean trematodes

With my colleagues, I aim to help bring consideration of parasites and infectious processes into general ecological theory and practice.

One major facet of this broad goal focuses on revealing the role of parasites in ecosystems. History and modern ecology tell us that parasites can strongly influence individuals, populations, and communities. Despite this, parasitism is usually ignored in ecological research. Hence, we seek to understand the role or impacts of parasites on various ecological patterns and processes.

In addition, I recognize that parasites are bona fide species and comprise a massive chunk of biodiversity. Parasites also differ in basic ways from free-living species. Well, it’s a no-brainer that generalizations about life should pertain to most life. So, let’s keep parasites in mind to better test, refine, and buttress our efforts to construct general ecological and evolutionary schemas that characterize all life.

Under the umbrella of these large goals concerning parasites and parasitism, I pursue many sorts of questions. I focus quite a bit on community, population, and evolutionary ecological issues. I deal with the metabolic theory of ecology, food webs, phylogeography, invasion biology, and good ol’ fashioned descriptive parasitology. I also work on directly applied issues, particularly using parasites as ecological indicator tools and as biological control agents.

I’m inordinately fond of trematodes, parasitic castrators (body snatcher parasites), and tidal wetlands. To answer questions, I use observations and experiments from the field, lab, and computer. Additionally, I work with many excellent people.

Research Area/s: 

Contact Information



(805) 893-8062

Office Location: 

2004 Marine Biotech (Bldng 555)

Lab Location: 

2003, 2025, 2144 Marine Biotech (Bldng 555)

Office Phone: 

(805) 893-3998

Lab Phone: 

(805) 893-3998

Mailing Address: 

Marine Science Institute University of California Santa Barbara, CA 93106-6150 United States