The transmission of vector-borne diseases critically depends upon the coevolutionary dynamics between vectors and the parasites they transmit. Our lab interested in understanding the evolution of anti-parasite defense mechanisms, and their effects on vector competence, in natural vector populations. We are currently working with Tovi Lehmann, NIH-NIAID, to address these questions using Aedes albopictus (Asian tiger mosquito) and Dirofilaria immitis (dog heartworm) as the model system.
|Vector range expansion
The geographic range of many disease vectors, and thus the diseases they transmit, is rapidly expanding due to human-mediated transport and global climate change. Our lab is interested in understanding the relative importance of diffusive vs. non-diffusive processes for vector and vector-borne disease invasion dynamics. We are currently focusing on the range expansion dynamics of Amblyomma americanum (the lone star tick).
|Emerging infectious diseases
A large proportion of emerging infectious diseases in human and wildlife populations are caused by vector-borne pathogens. Avian malaria, is an important emerging infectious disease in many wild bird communities globally. Our lab group, in collaboration with the lab group of Robin Vijayan, IISER-Tirupati, is currently studying the ecological and evolutionary dynamics of avian malaria in bird communities inhabiting the tropical sky-islands of the Western Ghats, Southern India.
|Wildlife disease management
Controlling disease in free-ranging wildlife populations is a challenging task. Our lab is collaborating with the USDA-APHIS and the Rhodes and Beasley lab groups at SREL to increase the improve rabies management programs by evaluating factors affecting the uptake of oral rabies vaccine baits by raccoons and by optimizing strategies to improve vaccine uptake efficiency.
|Contaminants and disease
Aquatic systems are being challenged with increasing levels of contaminants from anthropogenic sources: domestic, agricultural and industrial. Our lab group is interested in understanding how heterogeneous exposure to contaminants, at individual and population levels, interact with predation and parasitism to impact contaminant bioaccumulation dynamics in natural systems.