Main Navigation


University Resources


Sarah Bush

Associate Professor


Graduate Program Membership:

Office/Building: ASB 562A
Phone: 801-587-9614; 801-633-8629
Email: bush@biology.utah.edu
Clayton/Bush Lab: http://darwin.biology.utah.edu/

Research Statement


Parasites represent as many as half of all species of organisms on Earth. This rich diversity is driven, in part, by host specificity. Most parasites are host specific, and some parasites are so specific that they only infest only one host species. Intriguingly, however, host specificity is in constant flux. Parasites can, and do, switch to new host species. In fact, one study estimates that as many as 61% of the parasites/pathogens affecting humans have zoonotic origins. Furthermore, human introductions of plants and animals into new geographic regions have exposed wildlife to new parasites/pathogens that may ultimately threaten the conservation of global biodiversity. My research focuses on the evolutionary ecology of host-parasite interactions. In particular, I am interested in using macroevolutionary information for hosts and their co-evolving parasites to generate testable hypotheses about ecological factors determining host-specificity.

Research Interests


General Interests
Specific Interests
  • Systematics
  • Evolution of host-specificity
  • Host-parasite interactions
  • Parasite community ecology

Selected Publications


  • Bush, S. E. 2021. Acceptance of the 2021 Henry Baldwin Ward medal: Parasite forms most beautiful. Journal of Parasitology 107:957-961.
  • Baldwin-Brown, J. G., S.M. Villa, A. Vickery, K.P. Johnson, S. E. Bush, D.H. Clayton, M.D. Shapiro. 2021. The assembled and annotated genome of the pigeon louse Columbicola columbae, a model ectoparasite. G3: Genes | Genomes | Genetics 11:jkab009. doi: 10.1093/g3journal/jkab009.
  • Villa, S. M., J. C. Altuna, J. S. Ruff, A. B. Beach, L. I. Mulvey, E. J. Poole, H. E. Campbell, K. P. Johnson, M. D. Shapiro, S. E. Bush, and D. H. Clayton. 2019. Rapid experimental evolution of reproductive isolation from a single natural population. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 201901247.
  • Bush, S.E., S. M. Villa, J. C. Altuna, K. P. Johnson, M. D. Shapiro, and D. H. Clayton. 2019. Host defense triggers rapid adaptive radiation in experimentally evolving parasites. Evolution Letters 3:120-128. doi:10.1002/evl3.104
  • Bush, S. E. and D. H. Clayton. 2018. Anti-parasite behaviour of birds. Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society, B. 373: 20170196. doi:10.1098/rstb.2017.0196
  • Gustafsson, D. R., and S. E. Bush. 2017. Morphological revision of the hyperdiverse Brueelia-complex (Insecta: Phthiraptera: Ischnocera: Philopteridae) with new taxa, checklists and generic key. Zootaxa 4313: 1-443.
  • Clayton, D. H., S. E. Bush, and K. P. Johnson. 2015. Coevolution of life on hosts: Integrating ecology and history. University of Chicago Press.

Courses Taught


  • 5555: Ecology and Evolution of Parasites and Pathogens