PhD research project : INTERACTIONS AND DISEASES AT THE DOMESTIC ANIMAL AND WILDLIFE INTERFACE IN THE BETAMPONA NATURAL RESERVE, MADAGASCAR.
Humans and their introduced domestic animals may affect the abundance and distribution of endemic species even within natural habitats and protected areas. The reason for this correlation may be any, or a combination, of interspecific competition, predation and diseases. In fact, diseases may be a factor of apparent competition and are increasingly recognized as threats to endangered populations of wildlife. With this project, we aim to evaluate the impact of domestic animals on endemic wildlife and more specifically, the potential for disease transmission between introduced and endemic carnivore species in the Betampona Natural Reserve, Madagascar. We will describe and analyze the spatio-temporal interactions between species to characterize the probabilities of co-occurrence of domestic and endemic wildlife in the protected area. We will also estimate the prevalence and identify risk factors of exposure to selected pathogens in introduced domestic and peridomestic animal species in villages as well as endemic mammals within the protected area. Finally, using microbial genetics and tracking methods we aim to uncover the ecology of a potential pathogen and identify individuals or species that may act as super spreaders of diseases in the ecosystem of Betampona.
This project is featured in an article/blog post from the University of Missouri St Louis newspaper (UMSL daily) that is available here.
Collaborators: Dr Patricia Parker (University of Missouri-Saint Louis) & Ingrid Porton (Madagascar Fauna & Flora Group).
Funding support: This work is partly funded by the Saint Louis Zoo, the Madagascar Fauna and Flora Group, the Rufford small grant foundation and the Whitney Harris World Ecology Center at the University of Missouri-Saint Louis.
Master’s thesis project : GIARDIA AND CRYPTOSPORIDIUM, TWO POTENTIALLY ZOONOTIC PARASITES IN HUMANS, DOMESTIC ANIMALS AND WILDLIFE FROM THE RANOMAFANA NATIONAL PARK ECOSYSTEM, MADAGASCAR.
Increasing human activities in the vicinity of natural habitats may facilitate the emergence and transmission of diseases between humans, domestic animals and wildlife species. We conducted a cross-sectional study investigating the prevalence of Giardia and Cryptosporidium, two ubiquitous and potentially zoonotic protozoan parasites in various populations of humans and animals from the Ranomafana National Park ecosystem (RNP), Madagascar. Giardia and Cryptosporidium were detected in fecal samples using direct immunofluorescence after oocyst/cyst concentration by flotation. We found Giardia and Cryptosporidium in 25% and 20 % of samples respectively. Species, age-category and coinfection by either Giardia or Cryptosporidium were associated with the infection by the parasites of interest. Pigs were more likely to excrete Giardia and, cattle and rodents were more likely to excrete Cryptosporidium. For both pathogens, and regardless of host species, young age was associated with increased risk of infection as was a Giardia/Cryptosporidium coinfection. Giardia and Cryptosporidium are highly prevalent in various species inhabiting villages adjacent to the Ranomafana National Park. These parasites may constitute a threat to endemic wildlife species.
This project also allowed us to report for the first time, the occurrence of Cryptosporidium a potentially zoonotic protozoan parasite in two species of wild lemurs from the Ranomafana National Park including the critically endangered greater bamboo lemur (Prolemur simus).
Part of this project was published in the journal of wildlife diseases and is available here.
Collaborators: Drs Stéphane Lair, Julie Arsenault and Alain Villeneuve (Université de Montréal); Dr Thomas Gillespie (Emory University), Dr Patricia Wright (SUNY-Stony Brook).
Funding support: This work was funded in part by the Centre québécois sur la santé des animaux sauvages, Université de Montréal, Canada, The Stony Brook University, New York and the Centre Valbio, Madagascar
COLLABORATIVE RESEARCH PROJECT: PROSIMIAN BIOMEDICAL SURVEY PROJECT
I participate as a field veterinarian in the Prosimian Biomedical Survey Project. This project was initiated and is coordinated by Dr Randall E. Junge and aims at evaluating the health of lemurs in protected areas of Madagascar. This program is structured on the collaboration between biologists, anthropologists and wildlife veterinarians involved in research in Madagascar. Veterinarians assist in anesthesia and care of captured animals while collecting health and nutritional data on endangered lemurs.
Our goal is to evaluate and monitor the health of endemic lemurs, generate physiological values, assess disease risk in lemurs inhabiting natural habitats of Madagascar. Additionally the data collected, can help understand and prevent captivity related diseases.
Since 2000, this research project has evaluated the health of more than 700 lemurs from approximately 20 species all over Madagascar. Team members have published approximately 15 peer-reviewed scientific articles (some of which are available here).
UNDERGRADUATE RESEARCH PROJECT: PARASITOLOGICAL EVALUATION OF CAPTIVE LEMURS IN MADAGASCAR
I conducted a 12 months parasitological survey of lemurs housed in two zoological parks of Madagascar. Infections with gastrointestinal parasites may be a major threat to lemurs kept in captivity, as they are a common cause of diarrhea. In this study, fecal egg count patterns and clinical signs associated with gastrointestinal nematodes were assessed in 40 lemurs from 6 species kept under different husbandry and climatic conditions at two sites in Madagascar. A total of 5 genera of nematode eggs from the orders Strongylida, Oxyurida, and Enoplidia were recovered and identified from 198 out of 240 samples (83%) at the Tsimbazaza Zoological Park and 79% (189 out of 240) at the Ivoloina Zoological Park using a modified McMaster technique. Significant differences were found for parasites from the order Strongylida between the two sites. The differences may be due to climate conditions and the presumed life cycle of these parasites.
This project was published in the Journal of Zoo and Wildlife Medicine and is available here.