Luis Fernando Chaves

Vector Ecology and Environment Assiatant Professor
Special field
Mathematical Biology, Biometry and Climate Change
Research themes
Modeling the ecology and control of vectors and the diseases they transmit. Emphasis on Leishmaniasis, Malaria and Chagas disease under climate change.

Modeling is a critical tool to render clear and understandable what is otherwise conceived as obscure and inapprehensible in nature. Mathematical analysis of equations describing natural processes together with simulations of simple to complex scenarios allow to formally articulate the mechanism of biological processes that go from the interaction of molecules to the interaction between organisms and the environment. Biometry is the tool bridging the gap between observations from nature and mathematical models through parameter estimation. Biometry also allows to judge what is similar or different, what changes in opposite (but also independent or concerted) ways or how much to believe things. Both mathematical modeling and biometry, i.e., quantitative methods, are highly successful to solve problems in Tropical Medicine when used/developed in conjunction with the ability to observe and intervene systems in ways where comprehensive information can be compiled, a major strength of the work from the Vector Ecology and Environment Department since the foundation of NEKKEN. Thus, in the Department of Vector Ecology and Environment we welcome students willing to contribute to the solution of problems in Tropical Medicine through the use quantitative methods (mathematical/biometrical/ but also including the collection of data) to understand how do vectors of disease interact with: (i) Each other [Why do vector abundance fluctuates?, how is this related to climatic patterns, in the long and medium term, but also to more rapid weather fluctuations?], (ii) Other species [looking at vectors as bloodsucking organisms that transmit diseases to humans and animals, but more generally as players of a larger ecosystem in which they consume, or are consumed by, other organisms], (iii) The environment [What is climate change doing to vectors and the diseases they transmit?, Why sometimes vector control fails/succeds?].

Recommended books

Lewontin, R. C. and Levins, R. (2007). Biology Under the Influence: Dialectical Essays on Ecology, agriculture, and health, Monthly Review Press, New York. From
How do we understand the world? While some look to the heavens for intelligent design, others argue that it is determined by information encoded in DNA. Science serves as an important activity for uncovering the processes and operations of nature, but it is also immersed in a social context where ideology influences the questions we ask and how we approach the material world. Biology Under the Influence: Dialectical Essays on Ecology, agriculture, and health breaks from the confirms of determinism, offering a dialectical analysis for comprehending a dynamic social and natural world. In Biology Under the Influence, Richard Lewontin and Richard Levins provide a devastating critique of genetic determinism and reductionism within science while exploring a broad range of issues including the nature of science, biology, evolution, the environment, pubic health, and dialectics, They dismantle the ideology that attempts to naturalize social inequalities, unveil the alienation of science and nature, and illustrate how a dialectical position serves as a basis for grappling with historical developments and a world characterized by change. Biology Under the Influence brings together the illuminating essays of two prominent scientists who work to demystify and empower the public's understanding of science and nature.

personal history

JSPS Post Doc 2010-2012 Hokkaido University,
Post Doc Fellow 2008-2010 Emory University (Atlanta, USA), Ph.D. Ecology and Evolutionary Biology
2004-2008 University of Michigan, USA, M. Sc. in Ecology (Mathematical Biology)
2002-2003 Universidad Central de Venezuela, Licentiate in Biology (Parasite Ecology)
1996-2001 Universidad de Los Andes (Merida, Venezuela)


1. Chaves LF, Satake A, Hashizume M, Minakawa N. 2012. Indian Ocean Dipole and Rainfall drive a Moran effect in East Africa Malaria Transmission. Journal of Infectious Diseases 205(12): 1885-1891.

2. Chaves LF, Morrison AC, Kitron UD, Scott TW. 2012. Non-linear Impacts of Climatic Variability on the Density-Dependent Regulation of an Insect Vector of Disease. Global Change Biology 18(2): 457-468. (Reviewed in F1000)

3. Chaves LF &Koenraadt CJM. 2010. Climate Change and Highland Malaria: fresh air for a hot debate. The Quarterly Review of Biology 85(1): 27-55.

4. Chaves LF, Hernandez MJ, Dobson AP & Pascual M. 2007. Sources and Sinks: revisiting the criteria for identifying reservoirs for American Cutaneous Leishmaniasis. Trends in Parasitology 23(7): 311-316.

5. Chaves LF & Pascual M. 2006. Climate cycles and forecasts of Cutaneous Leishmaniasis, a non-stationary vector borne disease. PLoS Medicine 3(8): e295.