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Disease Ecology of Wildlife

Lead Scientist(s): Dr. Barbara A. Han

While the majority of our work centers on zoonotic diseases, ongoing collaborations explore the ecology of diseases found only in wildlife.  Previous work examined amphibians are important indicators of ecosystem health that are declining globally due to pathogenic threats such as Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis (Bd), a fungal pathogen. The disease, chytridiomycosis, is estimated to have impacted hundreds of frog species worldwide and is widely considered among the greatest threats to global biodiversity. In previous work, Dr. Han investigated the impact of Bd infection on host behaviors, such as aggregation, thermoregulation, and anti-predator behaviors, and the consequences of these changes for host community stability and diversity.

A recent project examined the role of amphibians as voracious mosquito predators that suffer heavy mortality caused by exposure to common mosquito-repellents, highlighting the potential for negative feedbacks that may drastically reduce mosquito vector control and vector-borne disease control as a crucial ecosystem service.