Document Type

Dissertation

Degree

Doctor of Philosophy

Major

Biology

Date of Defense

4-10-2018

Graduate Advisor

Patricia Parker

Committee

Matthew Gompper

Robert Ricklefs

Robert Marquis

Patricia Parker

Abstract

Introduced carnivores exert considerable pressure on native predators through predation, competition and disease transmission. Improved understanding of determinant factors of interactions and pathogen transmission between introduced and endemic wildlife may help to predict disease emergence, avoid pathogen spillover and help control outbreaks. Using non-invasive camera traps, I identified areas where transmission of pathogens might happen through records of shared space-use within a protected area in Eastern Madagascar. I showed that indirect interactions between animals were more likely to occur near the research station which may constitute a disease transmission hotspot for carnivores in the landscape. Secondly, I investigated the associations between individual and spatial variables with the exposure to pathogens in multiple sympatric endemic carnivores. I showed that individual characteristics such as age, sex and species are associated with exposure to Toxoplasma gondii, but not Leptospira spp. or Canine Parvovirus. Finally, I revealed where exchange of microbes has already occurred by using microbial genetics of Escherichia coli. Specifically, DNA fingerprinting methods were used to construct a microbial-sharing network between carnivores in the Betampona natural reserve ecosystem. Collectively, the results that are presented here may help the conservation efforts of the unique Malagasy carnivores by highlighting the need for disease monitoring and mitigation at the domestic animal and wildlife interface of Madagascar

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