Drivers of Mosquito Abundance in the High Sierra Alpine.
Mosquito populations can be vastly abundant within the Eastern Sierra Nevada Mountains. What is driving their abundance and seasonal replication is not totally understood. While there are native vertebrate hosts in the Sierras, their population abundances remain relatively low. However, humans seeking outdoor recreation opportunities can, in some places, be the most abundant host type. How much are we within these areas driving the presence and abundance of mosquito populations? We'll attempt to answer this question by collecting blood-fed and performing genetic bloodmeal analysis.
Carry-over effects from vaccinating dogs against Leptospira in rural Madagascar.
Leptospira is a globally distributed zoonotic bacteria that infects all mammals and causes approximately 59,000 human deaths globally per year. Rural areas of the global south, such as Madagascar, are disproportionately affected by leptospirosis. Vaccinating dogs against leptospirosis, a common control measure in the global north, is not widely used in rural Madagascar. We are using modeling-based approaches and an experimental intervention to study the effects vaccination dogs will have on community-level prevalence in dogs, wildlife, and people.
Predicting zoonotic disease exposure risk in the face of anthropogenic land-use change in rural Madagascar.
Through understanding and mapping the underlying parasite-host-environmental linkages, we can make spatially explicit predictions on the risk of zoonotic spillover and use those to forecast risk in new places, times, and climatic conditions. Anthropogenic disturbances alter the presence of zoonotic diseases, as well as the way in which people and animals utilize the landscape. We are trying to understand what environmental variables and disturbance types influence prevalence across a suite of parasites and if these predictions correlate with the probability of infection in people utilizing high-risk spaces.
Adapting an Internet of Things approach to small mammal movements.
Animal movement data derived from tracking devices is vital to informing the ecology of animals and informing management decisions pertaining to their well-being. However, tracking animals is often limited by the weight, battery life, and cost of GPS collars, which are best suited for tracking small numbers of large animals. The advent of internet of things technologies, such as those used in asset tracking systems such as store-theft monitoring systems, is revolutionizing the field of movement ecology by making it possible to track large numbers of small species. One implication of using this technology is the ability to better understand “close-contacts” disease transmission events and develop better tools for forecasting outbreaks before they decimate animal populations or spillover into humans. However, designing these systems, which are built “ground-up” and are therefore heavily influenced by users’ design choices, needs to be done with careful consideration. We are working to develop and field-test a user-friendly, interactive interface for designing an optimal small mammal tracking system.
Marine resources as nutrient subsidies for coastal terrestrial mammals.
While traditionally treated as functional distinct ecosystems, marine and terrestrial ecosystems and their food webs are increasingly being shown to interface, especially in coastal habitat. Allochthonous material and marine animals are being foraged by a wide range of large terrestrial mammals, although how often and to what extent these foraging behaviors occur is unclear. We are surveying a gradient of wild coastlines along the Gaviota coast to document the marine contributions to the diets of Coyotes, Bobcats, Feral hogs, and other rarely encountered predators like Mountain Lions and Black Bears. DNA diet analysis through time will inform us of the marine contribution, seasonality, and particular marine
species subsidizing the nutrition of these charismatic carnivores.