The ecology of environmentally-transmitted diseases in ungulates of Etosha National Park, Namibia: gastrointestinal parasites, anthrax and host foraging behavior
Friday seminar by Wendy C. Turner
In many host-parasite systems, hosts become infected with environmentally-transmitted parasites while foraging, through ingestion of infectious stages or vectors along with food. However, feeding behaviour varies in time and space with changes in the quality and quantity of resources. Therefore variation in host foraging behaviour may affect parasite transmission and disease dynamics. In my Ph.D. research at the University of California at Berkeley, I studied gastrointestinal parasites in an assemblage of herbivorous mammals and how these host-parasite relationships were modulated by host ecology, parasite interactions and environmental variability. In my proposed post-doctoral work in collaboration with the CEES, I will examine changes in the foraging behavior of springbok (Antidorcas marsupialis) and plains zebra (Equus quagga) and how these relate to the seasonal timing of anthrax outbreaks (caused by the bacterium, Bacillus anthracis) in Etosha National Park, Namibia. This research will include 1) local-scale studies of nutrient availability and host foraging selectivity at anthrax carcass and control sites, 2) evaluation of spatiotemporal variation in host diet and foraging behavior using stable isotope chronologies and behavioral studies and 3) integration of data on host foraging behavior, diet, movement, landscape features, primary productivity and anthrax occurrence.
Dr. Wendy C. Turner
University of California, Berkeley, USA