Event Title

Do Introduced Animals Spread Their Diseases to Native Wildlife?

Faculty Mentor

Mr. Matthew J. Heard

College

College of Arts and Sciences

Department

Biology

Location

DiGiorgio Campus Center, Room 220

Start Date

22-4-2016 2:30 PM

End Date

22-4-2016 2:45 PM

Description

Parasites are thought to affect all wildlife species around the world. In many cases, these organisms do not pose significant threats to their wildlife hosts. However, when wildlife hosts are introduced to new parasites they have never been exposed and to which they have no immunity, their fitness and survival can be compromised. One important way in which wildlife species can be exposed to new parasites is through the introduction of species to new geographic locations. For example, when raccoons were introduced to Japan for the first time, they transmitted raccoon roundworms to both rabbits and domestic dogs. To date, there have been relatively few studies that have examined the role that species introductions play in introducing new parasites to wildlife species. Here, we address this by conducting the first study that examines whether the introduction of animals from five major groups (amphibians, fish, reptiles, birds, and mammals) to new locations around the world causes spillover of parasites to native wildlife hosts. To do this, we are utilizing data on parasites from the Host-Parasite Database that is managed by the Natural History Museum in London along with data on introduced species from the Global Invasive Species Database. Using these data, we will be able to determine how frequently the introduction of wildlife species to new locations results in introduction of new parasites for these five taxonomic groups. In addition, this study will help us to further understand the risk that species introductions plays in infectious disease emergence.

Course Assignment

Undergraduate Research in Biology, BIOL 471, Matthew Heard

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Apr 22nd, 2:30 PM Apr 22nd, 2:45 PM

Do Introduced Animals Spread Their Diseases to Native Wildlife?

DiGiorgio Campus Center, Room 220

Parasites are thought to affect all wildlife species around the world. In many cases, these organisms do not pose significant threats to their wildlife hosts. However, when wildlife hosts are introduced to new parasites they have never been exposed and to which they have no immunity, their fitness and survival can be compromised. One important way in which wildlife species can be exposed to new parasites is through the introduction of species to new geographic locations. For example, when raccoons were introduced to Japan for the first time, they transmitted raccoon roundworms to both rabbits and domestic dogs. To date, there have been relatively few studies that have examined the role that species introductions play in introducing new parasites to wildlife species. Here, we address this by conducting the first study that examines whether the introduction of animals from five major groups (amphibians, fish, reptiles, birds, and mammals) to new locations around the world causes spillover of parasites to native wildlife hosts. To do this, we are utilizing data on parasites from the Host-Parasite Database that is managed by the Natural History Museum in London along with data on introduced species from the Global Invasive Species Database. Using these data, we will be able to determine how frequently the introduction of wildlife species to new locations results in introduction of new parasites for these five taxonomic groups. In addition, this study will help us to further understand the risk that species introductions plays in infectious disease emergence.