|Continent||Central and Latin America|
|Date||29 May 2018|
This project is motivated by observations of parasites of wild felines in the Osa Peninsula, southern Costa Rica. Jaguars, pumas and ocelots are iconic and charismatic species that play a key role as top predators in the ecosystem, and are largely the focus of numerous conservation efforts like the Osa Biological Corridor (OBC). This corridor connects protected areas in the region, but it could be increasing the risk of disease transmission between wildlife and domestic species.
My work will contribute to understanding infectious disease in wild and domestic carnivores in the OBC, in the hopes of minimizing the risk of pathogen transmission to species targeted by conservation efforts. One of my main contributions will be to determine the prevalence of intestinal parasites and of CDV in wild felines and domestic dogs, as a first step in predicting potential negative effects of these pathogens on wildlife populations. I will also determine the distribution of these parasites, to find the areas where the risk of transmission to wildlife is higher.
To understand pathogen transmission between species I will need to analyse the interactions between them. My project will estimate the spatial and temporal overlap of host species, and their abundance in different parts of the OBC, to study these interactions and to find potential transmission hotspots.
I will combine these data to determine the relative role that each host species plays in sustaining the parasite population, providing necessary inputs for effective parasite prevention or eradication plans. More importantly, by understanding how corridors influence the interaction between wild and domestic species we will be able to provide advice for the design of conservation corridors close to human activities that prevent pathogen transmission between species.
My project focuses on parasites and infectious disease in a specific wildlife corridor, but the information we obtain has broader applicability. For example, the estimations of population abundance are essential to monitor the success of corridors and protected areas. Wildlife corridors are being applied worldwide, and in many cases similar situations of disease transmission between wild and domestic species could arise. Moreover, I will be studying CDV and intestinal nematodes, which are common in tropical regions worldwide. What I learn in Costa Rica could therefore be widely applicable in other areas.
For further information contact: