I recently attended the Ecological Society of Australia's annual conference held at the Royal International Convention Centre in Brisbane (25-29th Nov, 2018)! I gave a presentation during the "Parasite ecology In the Anthropocene" symposium on Wednesday afternoon on some of my recent koala chlamydiosis modelling work.
Natural history of disease is central to investigating wildlife disease dynamics: examples from koala chlamydiosis
Dr. Laura Grogan (1), Dr. Alison Peel (1), Dr. Douglas Kerlin (1), Dr. William Ellis (2), Dr. J. Guy Castley (1), Prof. Hamish McCallum (1)
1 Griffith University, Nathan, Australia
2 The University of Queensland, St Lucia, Australia
Biography: I'm a Griffith University Research Fellow with a background in veterinary science, ecology and epidemiology. I work at the interface of disease ecology/epidemiology and pathogenesis/immunology of infectious diseases of wildlife. My current research focuses on koala chlamydiosis and amphibian chytridiomycosis.
Infectious disease emergence is on the rise globally and poses dramatic sociocultural, political and economic challenges for human public health, domestic animal agriculture and biodiversity. Infectious diseases of wildlife may drive host population dynamics through alterations in fundamental demographic rates such as survival and recruitment, as well as population structure. Indeed, diseases may cause population declines and species extinctions, as empirically demonstrated in multiple instances. However, despite decades of research, the mechanisms underlying both (1) within-host disease dynamics, and (2) among-host infection transmission dynamics, remain poorly characterized for many systems. This contributes to sparse understanding of the relative importance of within- versus among- host dynamics for driving individual- and population- level outcomes, and limits our capacity to respond to and mitigate disease impacts. Here, we investigate the value of using the natural history of disease as a central framework for preliminary investigation of wildlife disease dynamics in the ecological setting. In particular, we focus on a case study concerning a poorly characterised aspect of koala chlamydiosis, investigating the impact that differing time courses of disease (chronic and latent/persistent versus acute and self-immunising) can have on our ability to model and mitigate disease in wild populations. Using simple epidemiological models in the koala chlamydiosis context, we demonstrate that such fundamental aspects of the natural history of disease need early elucidation in wildlife disease scenarios as they can have dramatic implications for population-level dynamics, and markedly affect decisions concerning appropriate management approaches.