Dr. Belden is a community ecologist working primarily in the field of disease ecology. Many projects in the Belden lab have direct ties to the IGC program, such as work examining the role of symbiotic skin microbes in preventing amphibian infection by the chytrid fungus that has caused many amphibian population declines around the world. Most of the current projects in the Belden Lab focus on the theme of understanding how host-associated microbes impact disease dynamics across a variety of systems.
Dr. Belden is a Professor in the Department of Biological Sciences at Virginia Tech. She serves on the advisory board of SEEDS, a non-profit environmental education organization located in Blacksburg, Virginia. She has published more than 90 peer-reviewed papers.
At Virginia Tech, Dr. Belden teaches an undergraduate general education course, Plants and Civilization, and an upper-level undergraduate course, Ecology, Evolution and Behavior Senior Seminar. She also occasionally teaches a graduate seminar on maintaining work/life balance in academia, and contributes to a team-taught graduate course on microbiome data analysis.
Recent Relevant Publications
Hughey, M.C.P, E.R. SokolP, J.B. WalkeG, M.H. BeckerG, and L.K. Belden. 2019. Ecological correlates of large-scale turnover in the dominant members of Pseudacris crucifer skin bacterial communities. Microbial Ecology 78: 832-842.
Medina, D.G, M.C. HugheyP, J.B. WalkeP, M.H. BeckerG, K. PontarelliU, S. Sun, B. Badgley, and L.K. Belden. 2019. Amphibian skin fungal communities vary across host species and regions, but do not correlate with infection by a pathogenic fungus. Environmental Microbiology 21: 2905-2920. https://doi.org/10.1111/1462-2920.14682
Escallón, C., L.K. Belden, and I.T. Moore. 2019. The cloacal microbiome changes with the breeding season in a wild bird. Integrative Organismal Biology 1: oby009. https://doi.org/10.1093/iob/oby009
Hopkins, S.R.G, J.M. Wojdak, and L.K. Belden. 2017. Defensive symbionts mediate host-parasite interactions at multiple scales. Trends in Parasitology 33: 53-64. DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.pt.2016.10.003
Walke, J.B.P and L.K. Belden. 2016. Harnessing the microbiome to prevent fungal infections: lessons from amphibians. PLoS Pathogens 12(9): e1005796. doi:10.1371/journal.ppat.1005796