Dan Selechnik

Dan Selechnik


Phone: 03 522 72084

Location: Rollins Lab, Deakin University, Geelong

Research Interests

My research interests lie in the ecology and evolution of reptiles and amphibians. Specifically, I am fascinated by the relationships that these animals share with pathogens and parasites. Given the known vulnerability of many amphibians, I am curious about the various ways in which flexibility can be maintained in their physiological and behavioural immune responses.

Current Research

My PhD focuses on comparative immunogenetics in the cane toad. Current theory in ecoimmunology suggests that invasive species are released from many co-evolved pathogens/parasites in their native ranges, but also suddenly confronted with a new array of potential threats. Thus, successful invaders must upkeep their immune systems, but reallocate energy investment away from more taxing immune responses which can threaten their own survival, and into less costly forms of immunity. My studies aim to test if these hypotheses are applicable to the invasive Australian cane toad. This model offers phenotypically distinct populations on opposite ends of an introduced range, with individuals in Western Australia (on the “invasion front”) being more dispersive. I am not only investigating the divergence of immune functioning in these two population types, but also the underlying source of this variation. The predicted immune flexibility would likely be difficult to maintain with standing genetic diversity alone, since invaders undergo bottlenecks during translocation. Thus, for invasive species to evolve rapidly enough to establish into novel environments, other factors are likely at play.