Dr. Frank is interested in the evolution of immunity in non-model organisms, particularly bats. She has done field work in multiple countries on wild bats, capturing and sampling individuals and analyzing their infections and genomic signatures of pathogen-driven selection.

Professional Education

  • Bachelor of Arts, Harvard University (2009)
  • Doctor of Philosophy, Stanford University, BIO-PHD (2017)

Lab Affiliations

All Publications

  • Global fingerprint of humans on the distribution of Bartonella bacteria in mammals. PLoS neglected tropical diseases Frank, H. K., Boyd, S. D., Hadly, E. A. 2018; 12 (11): e0006865


    As humans move and alter habitats, they change the disease risk for themselves, their commensal animals and wildlife. Bartonella bacteria are prevalent in mammals and cause numerous human infections. Understanding how this genus has evolved and switched hosts in the past can reveal how current patterns were established and identify potential mechanisms for future cross-species transmission. We analyzed patterns of Bartonella transmission and likely sources of spillover using the largest collection of Bartonella gltA genotypes assembled, including 67 new genotypes. This pathogenic genus likely originated as an environmental bacterium and insect commensal before infecting mammals. Rodents and domestic animals serve as the reservoirs or at least key proximate host for most Bartonella genotypes in humans. We also find evidence of exchange of Bartonella between phylogenetically distant domestic animals and wildlife, likely due to increased contact. Care should be taken to avoid contact between humans, domestic animals and wildlife to protect the health of all.

    View details for PubMedID 30439961

  • Hologenomic adaptations underlying the evolution of sanguivory in the common vampire bat. Nature ecology & evolution Zepeda Mendoza, M. L., Xiong, Z., Escalera-Zamudio, M., Runge, A. K., Thézé, J., Streicker, D., Frank, H. K., Loza-Rubio, E., Liu, S., Ryder, O. A., Samaniego Castruita, J. A., Katzourakis, A., Pacheco, G., Taboada, B., Löber, U., Pybus, O. G., Li, Y., Rojas-Anaya, E., Bohmann, K., Carmona Baez, A., Arias, C. F., Liu, S., Greenwood, A. D., Bertelsen, M. F., White, N. E., Bunce, M., Zhang, G., Sicheritz-Pontén, T., Gilbert, M. P. 2018; 2 (4): 659–68


    Adaptation to specialized diets often requires modifications at both genomic and microbiome levels. We applied a hologenomic approach to the common vampire bat (Desmodus rotundus), one of the only three obligate blood-feeding (sanguivorous) mammals, to study the evolution of its complex dietary adaptation. Specifically, we assembled its high-quality reference genome (scaffold N50 = 26.9 Mb, contig N50 = 36.6 kb) and gut metagenome, and compared them against those of insectivorous, frugivorous and carnivorous bats. Our analyses showed a particular common vampire bat genomic landscape regarding integrated viral elements, a dietary and phylogenetic influence on gut microbiome taxonomic and functional profiles, and that both genetic elements harbour key traits related to the nutritional (for example, vitamin and lipid shortage) and non-nutritional (for example, nitrogen waste and osmotic homeostasis) challenges of sanguivory. These findings highlight the value of a holistic study of both the host and its microbiota when attempting to decipher adaptations underlying radical dietary lifestyles.

    View details for PubMedID 29459707

    View details for PubMedCentralID PMC5868727

  • Phylogeny, Traits, and Biodiversity of a Neotropical Bat Assemblage: Close Relatives Show Similar Responses to Local Deforestation. The American naturalist Frank, H. K., Frishkoff, L. O., Mendenhall, C. D., Daily, G. C., Hadly, E. A. 2017; 190 (2): 200–212


    If species' evolutionary pasts predetermine their responses to evolutionarily novel stressors, then phylogeny could predict species survival in an increasingly human-dominated world. To understand the role of phylogenetic relatedness in structuring responses to rapid environmental change, we focused on assemblages of Neotropical bats, an ecologically diverse and functionally important group. We examined how taxonomic and phylogenetic diversity shift between tropical forest and farmland. We then explored the importance of evolutionary history by ascertaining whether close relatives share similar responses to environmental change and which species traits might mediate these trends. We analyzed a 5-year data set (5,011 captures) from 18 sites in a countryside landscape in southern Costa Rica using statistical models that account and correct for imperfect detection of species across sites, spatial autocorrelation, and consideration of spatial scale. Taxonomic and phylogenetic diversity decreased with deforestation, and assemblages became more phylogenetically clustered. Species' responses to deforestation were strongly phylogenetically correlated. Body mass and absolute wing loading explained a substantial portion of species variation in species' habitat preferences, likely related to these traits' influence on maneuverability in cluttered forest environments. Our findings highlight the role that evolutionary history plays in determining which species will survive human impacts and the need to consider diversity metrics, evolutionary history, and traits together when making predictions about species persistence for conservation or ecosystem functioning.

    View details for DOI 10.1086/692534

    View details for PubMedID 28731793

  • Frequency shifting reduces but does not eliminate acoustic interference between echolocating bats: A theoretical analysis. The Journal of the Acoustical Society of America Perkins, M. L., Frank, H. K., Pauly, J. M., Hadly, E. A. 2017; 142 (4): 2133


    Bats have been observed to shift the frequency of their echolocation calls in the presence of other echolocating bats, ostensibly as a way to reduce acoustic interference. Few studies, however, have examined the theoretical efficacy of such jamming avoidance responses. The present study uses the wideband ambiguity function to analyze the effects of acoustic interference from conspecifics and congeneric heterospecifics on the target acquisition ability of Myotis californicus and Myotis yumanensis, specifically whether unilateral or bilateral frequency shifts reduce the effects of such interference. Model results suggest that in conspecific interactions, M. yumanensis recovers its target acquisition ability more completely and with less absolute frequency shift than does M. californicus, but that alternative methods of jamming avoidance may be easier to implement. The optimal strategy for reducing heterospecific interference is for M. californicus to downshift its call and M. yumanensis to upshift its call, which exaggerates a preexisting difference in mean frequency between the calls of the two species. Further empirical research would elucidate whether these species do in practice actively employ frequency shifting or other means for jamming avoidance, as well as illuminate the role of acoustic interference in niche partitioning.

    View details for PubMedID 29092549

  • Opportunity for some, extinction for others: the fate of tetrapods in the Anthropocene EVOLUTIONARY ECOLOGY RESEARCH Solari, K. A., Frank, H. K., Frishkoff, L. O., Hsu, J. L., Kemp, M. E., Mychajliw, A. M., Hadly, E. A. 2016; 17 (6): 787-813
  • Anthropogenic impacts on Costa Rican bat parasitism are sex specific. Ecology and evolution Frank, H. K., Mendenhall, C. D., Judson, S. D., Daily, G. C., Hadly, E. A. 2016; 6 (14): 4898–4909


    While anthropogenic impacts on parasitism of wildlife are receiving growing attention, whether these impacts vary in a sex-specific manner remains little explored. Differences between the sexes in the effect of parasites, linked to anthropogenic activity, could lead to uneven sex ratios and higher population endangerment. We sampled 1108 individual bats in 18 different sites across an agricultural mosaic landscape in southern Costa Rica to investigate the relationships between anthropogenic impacts (deforestation and reductions in host species richness) and bat fly ectoparasitism of 35 species of Neotropical bats. Although female and male bat assemblages were similar across the deforestation gradient, bat fly assemblages tracked their hosts closely only on female bats. We found that in female hosts, parasite abundance per bat decreased with increasing bat species richness, while in male hosts, parasite abundance increased. We hypothesize the differences in the parasite-disturbance relationship are due to differences in roosting behavior between the sexes. We report a sex-specific parasite-disturbance relationship and argue that sex differences in anthropogenic impacts on wildlife parasitism could impact long-term population health and survival.

    View details for PubMedID 27547321

  • Multiple paths to aquatic specialisation in four species of Central American Anolis lizards JOURNAL OF NATURAL HISTORY Munoz, M. M., Crandell, K. E., Campbell-Staton, S. C., Fenstermacher, K., Frank, H. K., Van Middlesworth, P., Sasa, M., Losos, J. B., Herrel, A. 2015; 49 (27-28): 1717-1730
  • Bartonellae are Prevalent and Diverse in Costa Rican Bats and Bat Flies Zoonoses and Public Health Judson, S. D., Frank, H. K., Hadly, E. A. 2015; 62 (8): 609-617

    View details for DOI 10.1111/zph.12188