M Eric Benbow
Dr. Benbow began his education at Wittenberg University in Springfield, OH in 1990 and transferred to the University of Dayton in 1992 in search of research opportunities. It was at UD where he finished his B.S. in Biology in 1994 and two weeks after graduation began fieldwork on stream communities of Hawaiian mountain streams for his Ph.D. He graduated with his Ph.D. from UD in 1999. During his last year as a graduate student, Dr. Benbow wrote and won a grant from Earthwatch Institute and the Center for Field Research (http://www.earthwatch.org) to continue his Hawaiian stream research until 2001, which included a special research program involving the JASON Foundation (http://www.jason.org). In 2001, Dr. Benbow taught several courses for majors and non-majors at UD until he accepted a postdoctoral position with Dr. Rich Merritt at Michigan State University (MSU), and he was appointed as a Visiting Research Associate studying the ecological effects of road salt on wetland macroinvertebrates. During this postdoc Dr. Benbow also continued Hawaiian stream research and co-taught (with Dr. Albert Burky) two field courses as an Adjunct Assistant Professor at UD. In 2005, Dr. Benbow also accepted a position at DePauw University where he taught introductory ecology for a year. When the road salt project was finished at MSU, Dr. Benbow was appointed as an Assistant Professor of Entomology and was involved with writing and winning a R03 grant to study a disease in West Africa called Mycobacterium ulcerans infection, more commonly known as Buruli ulcer disease (http://www.who.int/buruli/en/). This grant led to a subsequent successful grant effort awarded as a R01 from Fogarty International as part of the joint NSF-NIH Ecology of Infectious Disease program (NIH-EID) (http://www.fic.nih.gov/programs/research_grants/ecology/). Dr. Benbow was a co-PI on both of these grants and actively directs and manages parts of the EID grant at UD as an Assistant Professor of Biology.
His research involves basic and applied multiple-scale studies on the biology and ecology of aquatic ecosystems, how terrestrial and aquatic ecosystems are coupled and the influence of human activities on those processes. Major research efforts have been directed toward the following areas: 1) a large multidisciplinary project to understand the ecology of Buruli ulcer disease in West Africa; 2) community ecology of tropical ecosystems; 3) watershed ecology, biomonitoring and assessment; 4) stream flow influence on communities at different spatio-temporal scales; and, 5) ecotoxicology of wetland communities.
Dr. Benbow also serves as a consultant to the World Health Organization on Buruli ulcer, the Republic of Palau for stream bioassessment, and the New Jersey Forensic Science Commission, Forensic Anthropology and Associated Forensic Specialties Sub-Committee; as an expert witness in a contested case involving Hawaiian streams; as an Executive Committee member for the North American Forensic Entomology Association (www.nafea.net); as a subject editor for the Entomology Digital Library of the American Association for the Advancement of Science - Medical and Veterinary Entomology/Forensics Section; and as section editor for the Encyclopedia of Inland Waters.
The Faculty Perspective
The University of Dayton offers an excellent opportunity for faculty and students to engage in cutting-edge research in the biological sciences. The size and atmosphere of UD facilitates a environment of frequent interactions between faculty mentors and students that is important for a strong research program and unique graduate student experiences.
I have conducted considerable field and laboratory research in a variety of locations extending from the temperate Midwest of the USA to insular tropical islands of the Pacific Ocean and West Africa. My current research interests address the interactions of humans and the environment, particularly aquatic ecosystems and riparian corridors. Specific projects include the ecology of microbial-invertebrate interactions and their role in mycobacterial disease emergence in West Africa; understanding the dynamics of marine-derived nutrients and natural disturbance in ecosystem structure and function among managed watersheds of southeast Alaska; the community ecology of small lake and quarry invertebrates; and watershed biomontoring projects in Vietnam, the Republic of Palau, Hawaii and Ohio. Previous research has addressed the effects of road salt on wetland community structure and function using integrated field and laboratory experiments.
My current primary research interests include both basic and applied community and ecosystem ecology as it relates to human impacts that include the following: 1) deforestation and other landscape changes on mycobacterial-invertebrate disease transmission in Africa; 2) the effects of forest management on Alaskan watershed ecosystems; and, 3) water withdrawal and watershed development in the tropics. My research programs focus on measuring and monitoring these impacts and providing information for better natural resource management and conservation.
My future plans are to develop studies that test hypotheses for understanding how ecological communities are structured over time, and how they respond to both natural and human-induced disturbances. Studies will logically incorporate experiments and field surveys directed at the individual, community and ecosystem levels of organization; thereby predicting community responses at multiple spatio-temporal scales and generating information useful for developing resource conservation and management plans. My current NIH study employs this methodology for determining environmental risk factors for an emerging disease.
My research priorities are to continue funded NIH disease ecology project, and expand current collaborative projects in the Midwest. I envision research that uses large-scale, landscape-based spatial relationships with smaller-scale ecosystem structure and function connections, validated and tested with mesocosm and laboratory experiments. I plan to continue basic and applied ecological research as it relates to watershed-level development and human health and management. I would be enthusiastic in collaborating with faculty at the University of Dayton for developing cross-disciplinary research projects that address multi-scale dynamics of landscape changes on aquatic and terrestrial ecosystems, such as testing hypotheses related to community-level and cross-ecosystem responses to environmental perturbations associated with land use changes or point/non-point sources of disturbance (e.g., pollution, climate change).
I believe it is important to combine field survey data with well structured experiments, an approach that employs broad patterns of data collection to direct and identify more focused questions and specific hypotheses that are then tested using controlled experimental designs. These experiments can be undertaken in the laboratory, within field mesocosms, or with replication of specific habitats or systems (e.g., watersheds). This approach provides empirical data that can be used in management plans, while also providing the scientific rationale and direction for addressing questions of both basic and applied interest.
Ecology of Infectious Disease Project
My major research project involves the role of landscape disturbance and climate on the community ecology of water bodies important to the emergence and transmission of Mycobacterium ulcerans in Ghana, Africa. This bacterium is responsible for Buruli ulcer, a rapidly emerging tropical disease. As part of a collaborative, multidisciplinary team, we are assessing landscape factors that influence aquatic food web structure and M. ulcerans distribution within and among aquatic habitats of Ghana. By integrating GIS and remote sensing technologies with established ecological sampling and assessment techniques, epidemiological procedures and molecular diagnostic tools, we are determining the potential factors influencing environmental conditions conducive for M. ulcerans occurrence at three hierarchical spatial scales: landscape, habitat and community. Using this multi-scale, multidisciplinary approach we are generating predictive models to enhance the scientific understanding necessary for the design, implementation, and evaluation of future and existing Buruli ulcer control programs. I have been a co-PI and project leader on grants from the World Health Organization, the NIH-R03 program and the joint NSF/NIH Ecology of Infectious Diseases Program (NIH-R01). I am currently collaborating with colleagues at Emory University on a pending NIH Biostatistics grant that will address methods for developing predictive disease models based on studies related to pathogen ecology and environmental interactions. We have been informed by the program director that we are in the 13th percentile with a decision pending congressional budget decisions. My colleagues and I also have been awarded additional funding through the Optimus Foundation. All of these grants support various aspects of the ecology and human dimensions of disease emergence.
Watershed Ecology Research
The role of human influence on watershed ecosystems has always been a primary research interest. Currently I am collaborating with colleagues at MSU and the University of Notre Dame on a project addressing the role of forest management and marine-derived nutrients on the ecology of Alaskan watersheds. Pacific salmon are known to be a source of significant resource subsidies and sediment disturbance to Northern Pacific rim watersheds. Fisheries and timber harvest constitute a dual impact on the complex ecological relationships between salmon spawners and coupled terrestrial-freshwater ecosystems. We are studying how timber harvest can modify such relationships by evaluating the ecological responses to spawners in stream and riparian habitats of watersheds on Prince of Wales Island, Alaska. These watersheds receive a range of salmon spawner densities (0.01-0.14 fish per m2) and have been subject to different intensities of timber harvest (6-85%). We have combined field and GIS data to develop a conceptual framework with which resource managers could make spatially and temporally explicit decisions about timber harvest. Such a framework will ideally allow timber harvest across a heterogeneous landscape without compromising the capacity of watersheds to retain and utilize spawner resources. My role in this study is co-directing analysis of benthic and riparian invertebrate ecological responses in these systems.
My early tropical research focused on the effects of water flow on the ecology of Hawaiian watersheds. I am still involved with this research and collaborate with Dr. Albert Burky on a current study to understand the impact of stream diversions on watershed ecology. This project is funded by a subcontract through the USGS in Honolulu, and future funding is being discussed.
Understanding the effects of anthropogenic development on freshwater resources is becoming increasingly important to both the scientific and popular communities. Our dependence on freshwater is undisputed, but development continues to grow in most areas of the world, which impacts freshwater ecosystems and resources in numerous ways. In an effort to assess anthropogenic effects on natural aquatic ecosystem dynamics, monitor changes in communities with and without these effects, and develop programs that help monitor and mediate human impact, I plan to continue building a vigorous, externally funded research program to accomplish these goals and support students. My experiences reflect this commitment, which has led to student presentations at regional and national meetings and co-authorship on several published manuscripts.
- PhD, 1999, University of Dayton
- B.S. in Biology, University of Dayton, 1994
- Ecological Society of America
- North American Benthological Society
- Sigma Xi
- North American Forensic Entomology Association
- Ohio Academy of Science
- Xerces Society
- Entomological Society of America
- Association for Tropical Biology
- Aquatic-Terrestrial Ecosystem Linkages
- Community Ecology
- Disease Ecology
- Disturbance Ecology
- Food web Ecology
- Landscape Ecology and Assessment
- Microbial-invertebrate Interactions
- Tropical Ecosystems
- Forensic Entomology
Publication Summary: Activity since August 2008
(see CV for complete list)
This list is out of a career total of 54 papers or book chapters published, in press, submitted or in revisions. Institutional affiliation is given for each citation.
* Indicates graduate or undergraduate co-authors.
Tomberlin, JK, *R Mohr, ME Benbow, AM Tarone, S Vanlaerhoven. 2011. A road map for bridging basic and applied research in forensic entomology. Annual Review of Entomology 56: 401-421. (invited paper)
Lewis, *AJ, ME Benbow. When entomological evidence walks away from a crime scene: en masse maggot migration. (in review at Forensic Science International)
Shoda, *ME, *KR Gorbach, ME Benbow, AJ Burky. 2010. Cascade macroinvertebrate assemblages for in-stream flow criteria and biomonitoring of high gradient, tropical streams. Rivers Research and Applications 26:1-12.
Tomberlin, JK, ME Benbow, AM Tarone, *R Mohr. Basic research in evolution and ecology enhances forensics. (Benbow corresponding author) (invited article in revisions at Trends in Ecology and Evolution)
Merritt, RW, ED Walker, PLC Small, JR Wallace, PDR Johnson, ME Benbow, DA Boakye. 2010. Ecology and transmission of Buruli ulcer disease: a systematic review. PLoS Neglected Tropical Diseases (in press)
McIntosh, MD, HR Williamson, ME Benbow, *RK Kimbirauskus, C Quaye, D Boakye, PLC Small, RW Merritt. Associations between Mycobacterium ulcerans and aquatic plant communities of West Africa: implications for Buruli ulcer disease. (in review at Applied and Environmental Microbiology)
Campbell, *EY, ME Benbow, SD Tiegs, JP Hudson, GA Lamberti, RW Merritt. Timber harvest intensifies spawning-salmon disturbance of macroinvertebrates in Southeast Alaska streams. (in final revisions at Journal of the North American Benthological Society)
Fyfe, JAM, CJ Lavender, KA Handasyde, AR Legione, CR O’Brien, TP Stinear, *SJ Pidot, T seemann, ME Benbow, JR Wallace, C McCowan, PDR Johnson. 2010. A major role for mammals in the ecology of Mycobacterium ulcerans. PLoS Neglected Tropical Diseases 4(8): e791
Suwannapong, G, *S Maksong, *P Seanbualuang, ME Benbow. 2010. Experimental infection of red dwarf honeybee, Apis florae, with Nosema ceranae. Journal of Asia-Pacific Entomology (in press)
Wallace, JR, MC Gordon, L Hartsell, *L Mosi, ME Benbow, RW Merritt, PLC Small. 2010. Survival of Mycobacterium ulcerans within mosquito species and preliminary implications for trophic relationships. Applied and Environmental Microbiology (in press) (UD Affiliation)
Suwannapong, G, *P Seanbualuang, *SV Gowda, ME Benbow. 2010. Detection of odor perception of Asiatic honeybee (Apis cerana Fabricius, 1793) workers by changing membrane potential of the antennal sensilla. Journal of Asia-Pacific Entomology 13:197-200.
Chuluunbat, S, JC Morse, J Lessard, ME Benbow, M Wesener. 2010. Phylogeny and historical biogeography of world Manophylax species (Trichoptera: Apataniidae) with description of a new species from Alaska. Journal of the North American Benthological Society 29(2):413-430.
Tiegs, SD, *EY Campbell, *PS Levi, *J Rüegg, ME Benbow, DT Chaloner, RW Merritt, JL Tank GA Lamberti. 2009. Separating the effects of Pacific salmon as agents of physical disturbance and nutrient enrichment. Freshwater Biology 54:1864-1865. http://www3.interscience.wiley.com/journal/122373193/abstract
Zurawski, *KN, ME Benbow, JR Miller, RW Merritt. 2009. An examination of nocturnal blow fly (Diptera: Calliphoridae) oviposition on pig carcasses in mid-Michigan. Journal of Medical Entomology 46(3): 671-679. http://www.bioone.org/doi/abs/10.1603/033.046.0335
Benbow, ME. 2008. Energetic interactions of larval sexual dimorphism and biased sex ratios among microhabitats of a lotic chironomid. Environmental Entomology 27(5): 1162-1173. PMCID: 19036195
Benbow, ME, H Williamson, RK Kimbirauskus, M McIntosh, R Kolar, C Quaye, F Akpabey, D Boakye, PLC Small, RW Merritt. 2008. Aquatic invertebrates as unlikely vectors of Buruli ulcer disease. Emerg Infect Dis 14(8): 1247-1254. Available from http://www.cdc.gov/EID/content/14/8/1247.htm. PMCID: PMC2600397 (Benbow Corresponding Author)
Suwannapong, G, ME Benbow. 2011. Biology of insect odors: sources, olfaction and responses. In: The Biology of Odors. F Columbus (Ed.). Nova Science Publishers, Inc., Hauppauge, NY. (in press)
Johnson, PDR, C Demangel, TP Stinear, ME Benbow, JAM Fyfe. 2010. Buruli ulcer (Mycobacterium ulcerans infection) – still mysterious. In: Emerging Infections 9. WM Michael, M.L Grayson, JM Hughes (Eds.). ASM Press, Washington DC.
Benbow, ME. 2009. Annelida, Oligochaeta and Polychaeta. In: Encyclopedia of Inland Waters: GE Likens (Ed.). Vol. 2, pp. 124-127. Elsevier, Ltd., Oxford, England.
Benbow, ME, MD McIntosh. 2009. Benthic Invertebrate Fauna, Tropical Stream Ecosystems. In: Encyclopedia of Inland Waters: GE Likens (Ed.). Vol. 2, pp. 216-231. Elsevier, Ltd., Oxford, England.
Wallace, JR, ME Benbow. 2009. Flatworms (Turbellarians). In: Encyclopedia of Inland Waters: G.E. Likens (Ed.). Vol. 2, pp. 315-316. Elsevier, Ltd., Oxford, England.
Merritt, RW, ME Benbow. 2009. Forensic Entomology. In: Wiley Encyclopedia of Forensic Science. A Jamieson and A Moenssens (Eds.). John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., New Jersey, pp. 1-12.
REFEREED PUBLISHED PROCEEDINGS
Benbow, ME, JK Tomberlin, TL Crippen, A Lewis*, J Pechal*. 2010. Using Biolog EcoPlatesTM as an economical approach to determining postmortem body dump sites through microbial community level physiological profiling. Proceedings of the 62nd Annual Meeting of the American Academy of Forensic Science. Vol XXI 22-27 February 2010. Seattle, WA.
Tomberlin, JK, ME Benbow, TL Crippen, F Ortiz*, J Ross*. 2010. Microbes associated with decomposing remains regulate insect colonization. Proceedings of the 62nd Annual Meeting of the American Academy of Forensic Science. Vol XXI 22-27 February 2010. Seattle, WA.
Benbow, ME, J Tomberlin, R Mohr. 2009. A new framework for guiding research in forensic entomology: improving the science relevant to PMI estimates. Proceedings of the 61st Annual Meeting of the American Academy of Forensic Science. Vol XX: 18-22 February 2009, Denver, CO.
NEWSLETTERS, PAMPHLETS, PUBLIC OUTREACH MATERIALS
Benbow, ME, (Ed). 2005-2010. North American Forensic Entomology Association Newsletter. Published annually.
Barker, RE, ME Benbow, RW McEwan. 2010. Restoration, research and removal of invasive bush honeysuckle at Black Oak Park. Educational Poster for Five Rivers Metro Parks. Poster is a permanent structure at the park providing information on an on-going collaborative research project by McEwan and Benbow from UD.