Wednesday 26 March 2014

Biosciences Seminar Speaker - 27 March 2014

Biosciences Seminar Series - Lent 2014
27 March 2014 - 1pm - Zoology Museum (Wallace 129)

Spatial parasite transmission in wild ungulates and carnivores

Dr. Eric Morgan

American dog tick. Immage downloaded from: 

As much as we all usually love animals, parasites are generally not on the top-fav list of critters. Ecologically, however, parasites play an important role and biologists have been fascinated by their complex life cycles since long time. Our speaker of this week, Dr. Eric Morgan from the insect ecology and veterinary parasitology research group at the University of Bristol, is especially interested in the dynamic interaction between host and parasite populations, for example to better understand how to manipulate these interactions to achieve sustainable control (e.g. see here). 

This of obvious applied interest for domestic animals, but Eric works also on the role of host-parasite interactions in wild animals (e.g. here), for example on the role of parasites in a migratory species, the saiga antelope in Kazakhstan. Other areas of research include parasite transmission between domestic and wild animals, which will form the subject of Eric's seminar here at Swansea, and mathematical models as tools for the sustainable control of parasites in domestic animals.


Parasite infections are the most important production-limiting diseases in livestock in all regions of the world, and climate change is tending to improve conditions for transmission, while also increasing the unpredictability of disease. In order to understand and adapt to these changes, we must appreciate the links between epidemiology and parasite life history, and their evolutionary context. 

I will aim to show, using gastrointestinal nematode parasites of ungulates as an example, how the challenges faced by parasites infecting wild animals (e.g. saiga antelopes, Saiga tatarica) moulded their transmission strategies, and equipped them for success in domestic situations. This includes an ability to adapt rapidly to climate change, evident in the spring scour worm of sheep, Nematodirus battus. The seminar will go on to consider how spatial considerations, especially the interaction between habitat suitability and host movement, appear to be shaping the spread of emerging parasites of carnivores in the UK, specifically the lungworm Angiostrongylus vasorum in foxes and dogs. 

New ways of studying such interactions at a range of scales will be discussed in relation to dog behaviour and risks of tick bites. Throughout, the link between climatic conditions for parasite development and the vagaries of host presence through natural and managed movement, will provide a underlying theme.

Thus, come and join us to listen to this talk in the Zoology Museum - everyone is most welcome!

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