Habitat and Coinfection as Drivers of Heterogeneity in Cross-scale Wildlife Infectious Disease Processes
Understanding sources of variation among individuals and populations in pathogen susceptibility, transmission and spread is crucial for predicting and managing infectious disease impacts on wildlife and humans. Habitat quality, as determined by food availability, and coinfections are two of the most pervasive and important factors driving variation in wildlife infectious disease processes. Yet, their individual and interactive impacts are remarkably poorly understood in natural systems. We are addressing these topics with this multidisciplinary project funded by the National Science Foundation EEID program.
Our project is divided into three aims to investigate the cross-scale effects of habitat quality and coinfection on individual, population and landscape-level infection processes:
We are employing mathematical models, synergistic field and laboratory experiments, and advanced molecular tools to maximize both the generality of our findings and biological realism. Bank voles in Finland provide a tractable experimental system to investigate the effects of resources and helminth coinfection on Puumala hantavirus infections. This wild rodent species is abundant in the forest habitats, and helminth infections and Puumala hantavirus are highly prevalent in their populations.