Dr. Frances Clare
Post doctoral research assistant
- May 2014 to date: Post doctoral research assistant, Institute of Zoology, London.
- October 2010 to August 2014: NERC funded PhD studentship, through Imperial College London and the Institute of Zoology.
- May 2010 to October 2010: Research assistant, Department of Infectious Disease Epidemiology (DIDE), Imperial College London.
- January 2008 to April 2010: Research Technician, Wildlife Epidemiology Department, Institute of Zoology, London.
- June 2008 to May 2009: Part-time research technician for the Cetacean Stranding Investigation Program (CSIP), Institute of Zoology.
- September 2006-2007: MSc Wild Animal Biology, Royal Veterinary College
- September 2003 to 2006: BSc Hons, Environmental Biology (First class). Lancaster University
- June 1999 to June 2003: Veterinary Nurse, Hird and Partners, Halifax. (2000 to 2002: Veterinary Nursing NVQ 3, awarded with Credit, Royal Veterinary College).
My main area of interest is investigating how infectious diseases may pose conservation threats to amphibian populations. Specifically looking at what negative effects infectious disease has on individuals and whether this leads to mortality and subsequent population decline. I am currently employed as a post-doc on the ‘Newts on Rum Project’ which aims to determine if mortality of palmate newts (lissotriton helveticus) in Scotland, attributable to infection with a mesomycetozoan parasite, can lead to newt decline.
My aim is to investigate how a host’s skin microbial community may be affected by or affect disease status. Research on the microbial community coexisting with vertebrates has begun to elucidate key roles in health and disease. As with all ecosystems, this community of microbes reaches a dynamic equilibrium, but this can be altered or disrupted by environmental factors, and a perturbation in this community of microbes can leave a host more susceptible to disease. Infectious diseases have been widely implicated in the global loss of amphibians, and the amphibian host’s skin microbiome can play a key role in determining susceptibility to skin infections that cause mortality and, by extension, population declines. Skin infections caused by these parasitic mesomycetozoean is causing severe disease and unusual mortality in palmate newts on the Isle of Rum, Scotland. Prevalence of infection and disease exhibits enormous spatial variation and pond water pH influences prevalence and severity of disease. The influence of these abiotic environmental factors on how host-associated microbial communities are formed is an underexplored topic, but environmental factors can be the primary predictors of host and non-host microbial community composition. I aim to explore how environmental variation of pH affects newt skin microbial community and relate this to the disease status of palmate newts on the Isle of Rum. Disentangling the interaction between the environment and both parasitic and commensal communities is an important step in understanding the ecology of this disease.
The aim of my PhD studentship was to assess the population-level costs of infection with Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis Bd) to the amphibians of a group of Pyrenean Lakes. To do so, I focussed principally on the common midwife toad (Alytes obstetricans), which, in parts of its range has suffered population declines and even local extinction as a result of exposure to Bd. I took advantage of a well-described spatial system of Bd infection, located in the French Pyrenees. Mass mortalities, due to chytridiomycosis, have been observed in populations of the highly susceptible Alytes obstetricans since the discovery of the pathogen in this area in 2002. I aimed to determine whether infection with chytridiomycosis had the potential to cause declines in this species across the affected region, whether all populations were equally at risk and observed and identified factors associated with seasonal and inter-annual differences in prevalence and burden of infection.
Bielby J, Bovero S, Sotgui G, Tessa G, Favelli M, Angelini C, Doglio S, Clare F, Gazzaniga E, Lapietra F, Garner TWJ, (2009). Fatal chytridiomycosis in the Tyrrhenian painted frog. Ecohealth 6, 27-32
Farrer, R, A., Weinert, L, A., Bielby, J., Garner, T, W, J., Balloux, F., Clare, F., Bosch, J., Cunningham,A, A., Weldon, C., du Preez, L,H., Anderson, L., Kosakovsky, S, L., Shahar-Golan, R., Henk D., and Fisher, M, C (2011). Emergence of panzootic amphibian chytridiomycosis is unique to a single globalised hypervirulent lineage. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America 108(46): 18732-18736. DOI: 10.1073/pnas.1111915108
Jepson PD, Deaville R, Acevedo-Whitehouse K, Barnett J, Colloff A, Clare F, Davison N, Jarvis DT, Loveridge J, Magregor SK, Morris S, Penrose R, Perkins M, Simpson V, Tregenza N, Cunningham AA, Fernadez A (2013). UK common dolphin (Delphinus delphis) mass stranding event: was a navel exercise the cause? PLoS ONE 8(4): e60953. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0060953
Balaz V, Voros J, Civis P, Vojar J, Hettyey A, Sos E, Dankovics R, Jehle R, Christiansen DG, Clare F, Fisher MC, Garner WJ and Bielby J (2013) Assessing Risk and Guidance on Monitoring of Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis in Europe through Identification of Taxonomic Selectivity of Infection. Conservation Biology. doi: 10.1111/cobi.12128
Schmeller DS, Blooi M, Martel A, Garner TWJ, Fisher MC, Azemar F, Clare F, Leclerc LJ, Guevara-Nieto M, Loyau A, Pasmans F (2014). Microscopic aquatic predators strongly affect infection dynamics of a globally emerged pathogen. Current Biology 24, 176-180
Orton F, Baynes A, Clare F, Duffus ALJ, Larroze MS, Garner TWJ (2014) Body size, nuptial pad size and hormone levels: potential non-destructive biomarkers of reproductive health in wild toads (Bufo bufo). Ecotoxicology. DOI: 10.1007/s10646-014-1261-3