Pathogen spatial spread

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Award Year: 
2018
Principal Investigator: 
Lauren White, SESYNC Postdoctoral Fellow
Sue VandeWoude, Collaborating Mentor

The role of green infrastructure in regulating and modulating the effects of infectious disease is a commonly overlooked, but critical component of ecosystem services. In a time of rapidly increasing human-mediated changes to the environment, understanding the ramifications of habitat fragmentation, human disturbance, urbanization, and climate change on pathogen transmission is critical. Anthropogenic activities can aid in the emergence of infectious disease in wildlife; for instance, increasingly urbanized environments can alter contacts between humans and wildlife, potentially making transmission events more likely, and urbanization may directly or indirectly affect animal movement and migration patterns. Importantly, habitat fragmentation, especially combined with individual movement behaviour, can have non-linear effects on disease transmission. Here we propose to use computational and modeling tools to ask: How do landscape structure and management interventions interact to influence disease spread across human-influenced landscapes? Using pre-existing host movement, and host and pathogen genomic data of puma (Puma concolor) from three geographic regions, we will use mathematical models to explore how landscape structure affects host movement and contact patterns, and in turn, assess how future outbreaks may spread in these populations. We will further simulate how different management and disease interventions might affect long-term survival of this apex predator. The results of this novel integration of movement and genomic data will have broader implications for understanding the consequences of human-mediated environmental changes and direct management interventions on the survival and conservation of threatened species worldwide.

Associated SESYNC Researcher(s): 
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