Jeffrey  Shields


Email: [[jeff]]
Phone: (804) 684-7128
Interests: Parasite and microbial diseases invertebrates and fishes.
Office: Andrews Hall 426
Website: {{}}
Research: {{}}

  • B.S., Ph.D., University of California, Santa Barbara
  • M.S., University of California, Berkeley
Research Interests

My expertise is in the etiology and epidemiology of parasitic and microbial diseases of commercially important fish and shellfish. Recently, I have been working on the epidemiology and pathology of microbial and protozoal infections in crustaceans (blue crabs, snow crabs, clawed and spiny lobsters), the etiology of diseases in molluscs (oysters, hydrothermal vent mussels and abalone), and the toxicity of a group of harmful algae known colloquially as Pfiesteria. Visit my personal website for an up-to-date list of my publications. 

  • Epidemics of Hematodinium spp., an unusual group of parasitic dinoflagellates, have caused financial losses to the fishermen of the USA and Canada. I've been working with colleagues in the Department of Fisheries and Oceans, Canada, to document shifting dynamics in epidemics of Bitter Crab Disease.  A one degree shift in water temperature stimulated molting activity in crabs making them more susceptible to the parasite. I've also documented mortalities to crab fisheries and elucidated the hematology and host factors in the disease, the pathophysiology of infections, basic culture and cryopreservation requirements, and life cycle studies.
  • My colleagues and I have recently identified a pathogenic virus in the Caribbean spiny lobster. The disease afflicts juveniles and is present in 6-8% of the population.  In a recent paper in Nature, we showed that healthy lobsters can detect and avoid diseased lobsters. This is the first example of this behavior in the animal kingdom, other than in humans! My colleagues, student and I have also developed diagnostics for the detection and quantitation of the virus (see Li et al. 2006, Li & Shields 2007, Montgomery-Fullerton et al. 2007).
  • A new form of shell disease is now epidemic in the American lobster, Homarus americanus, from off Rhode Island.  It's called epizootic shell disease and lobsters that have advanced cases of it are unmarketable.  I've recently started investigations into the nature of the pathology and the underlying and unknown etiology of this new disease. My colleagues at George Mason University have developed some novel methods to examine the bacterial community on the cuticle of affected lobsters, and we plan to explore the interactions between the bacterial community and the host cuticle.
Current Projects
  • 2007-2008; Rhode Island Sea Grant Program, "Etiology and mortality studies on epizootic shell disease in American lobsters, Homarus americanus." Principal Investigator - Jeffrey D. Shields, Co-PI - Patrick M. Gillev et.
  • 2005-2007; NSF, Biological Oceanography Program, "Disease Dynamics in Degraded Nurseries: Ecology of Viral Disease in a Social, Marine Animal." Principal Investigator - Mark J. Butler, Co-PIs - Jeffrey D. Shields, Robert Ratzlaff, Roland Cooper, Donald Behringer
Selected Publications
Previous Students
  • Anna Huntley, M.S. program
  • Erin Jenkins, M.S. program
  • Caiwen Li, Post-doc Research Associate
  • Christopher Magel, Ph.D. program
Courses Taught / Teaching
  • MS 559: Parasitology
  • MS 565: Principles in Pathobiology
  • MS 562: Practical Environmental Statistics
  • MS 698: Topics in Pathobiology
Faculty / Student Awards
  • Acanthoplacatus shieldsi Ernst et al., 2001. Journal of Natural History 35(3): 313-340.
  • President, The Crustacean Society, 2006-2007,
  • Royal Society of New Zealand, International Science and Technology Travel Award, 1999. "Economically important diseases of lobsters in New Zealand." With Dr. Ben Diggles, NIWA.
  • United Airlines - Lizard Island Research Station Travel Fellowship, 1993.
  • Postdoctoral Research Fellowship, University of Queensland, Brisbane, Australia, 1989-1991.
  • Patent Fund, University of California, Santa Barbara, 1986-1987.
  • President's Undergraduate Research Fellowship, University of California, Santa Barbara, 1980.
Professional Memberships
  • US Delegate, ICES (International Council for the Exploration of the Seas) Work Group on the biology and life history of crabs (WGCRAB), a component of the Living Resources Work Group. 1999-
  • Member: American Association for the Advancement of Science, National Shellfisheries Association, The Crustacean Society, The American Microscopical Society.
  • List administrator: CRUST-L, the Crustacea mailing list.
Collaborative / Interdisciplinary Efforts
  • Viral disease in spiny lobsters: Don Behringer, Mark Butler, Bob Ratzlaff, Roland Cooper
  • Bitter crab disease (Hematodinium) in snow crabs off Newfoundland: Dave Taylor, John Hoenig
  • Hematodinium infections in blue crabs: Hamish Small and Kimberly Reece
  • Shell disease in American lobsters: Patrick Gillevet, Norman Meres, Kathy Castro
  • Pfiesteria research at VIMS: Kimberly Reece, Wolfgang Vogelbein, Larry Haas
  • Shell disease in oysters: Bob Fisher and Howard Kator