Infectious diseases, compositions of host assemblages and species traits

Project

Infectious diseases, compositions of host assemblages and species traits

Yingying Wang investigates how the compositions of host assemblages and species traits affect disease risks.

Project description

Infectious diseases threaten human health, wildlife conservation, and food production. A clear understanding of the factors related to infectious diseases risk is necessary for predicting and controlling diseases. Previous studies about disease risk mainly concentrate on two aspects: the influence of vector and host densities, and the extrinsic factors, like environmental factors (i.e. climate and land cover). With regards to vector and hosts, previous researches mainly studied the adaptation and biology of vector and host species, the interactive effects between vectors and hosts, and between different hosts. Considering that these processes are embedded within a complex ecological context, I will here extend these studies, from a species-level approach to an assemblages level.

On the other hand, climate change and land use changes act as proxies for anthropogenic changes, which have been linked to disease risk causally. Climatic factors, such as temperature and humidity often co-determine survival and reproduction rates of hosts, vectors, pathogens, and transmission rates of infectious diseases. Landscape characteristics can also influence pathogen transmission dynamics by shaping host communities. Previous studies analysed the key factors at global or country level; here I would like to study the effects of those factors at a smaller scale, and I will consider not only the landscape characteristics within a particular site, but also the surrounding environmental context to make better predictions. Factors influencing disease risk vary over different scales in space and time, so it is important to identify the characteristic scales of those factors.

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