Affiliated PhD Student
2012-present: PhD Candidate, Institute of Zoology and Laurentian University, Canada.
2011: Research Intern, Sampled Red List Index, Institute of Zoology.
2010: Science Communicator, Glasgow Science Centre.
2009-2010: MSc Ecology, Evolution and Conservation, Imperial College London.
2008: Research Officer, National Trust for Nature Conservation, Nepal.
2004-2008: BSc (Hons) Biological Sciences (Zoology), University of Edinburgh.
In recent years, it has become ever more apparent that Emerging Infectious Diseases (EIDs) have significant effects on biological communities: in some cases, causing host extinctions. While establishing the cause of extinction is difficult and candidate model species are few, amphibians appear to be an ideal specimen as increasing evidence suggests that we are facing a global population decline. Ranavirus (family Iridoviridae) and the Chytrid fungus (Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis: Bd) are the primary EIDs associated with amphibian mortalities.
The Northern Leopard Frog, Lithobates (formerly Rana) pipiens, was previously common throughout its expansive Canadian range. However, in the 1970s the species underwent a dramatic decline. Presently in Eastern Canada, although common and widespread throughout southern Ontario, the species has declined in northern Ontario.
Although several causes have been suggested, both ranavirus and Bd have been detected within amphibian populations.
One of the central questions regarding the dynamics of many pathogens is to understand their pattern of spread. Previous events, such as the 2001 Foot and Mouth Disease epidemic in the UK, have highlighted the significance of barriers to transmission, such as rivers or railways. However, much more remains to be done. Most model-based projections of the spread of disease fail to account for variation in landscape. Yet, as landscape features determine the abundance and spatial distributions of hosts and pathogen vectors, it is probable that landscape heterogeneity can be instrumental in determining local disease risk, pathogen persistence and spread. Adopting L. pipiens as a vehicle for transmission, I aim to understand how environmental heterogeneity influences the emergence and spread of amphibian EIDs. I hope to address this important epidemiological issue while bridging a gap between landscape ecology and conservation management.
Dr. Trenton Garner (Institute of Zoology)
Dr. David Lesbarrères (Laurentian University)
Institute of Zoology
Laurentian University, Canada