Event Detail Information
NRES Departmental Seminar by Dr. Eric Schauber, Department of Zoology, Southern Illinois University
Title: Implications of Social Dynamics for Disease Transmission in Deer - Linking Models with Mechanisms
Diseases of wild animals have received increasing attention because of well-documented examples of species being driven to near or actual extinction, as well spillover resulting in illness or death of domestic animals and humans. To understand the dynamics and potential impacts of disease, epidemiological theory is based on models built from simplifying assumptions. However some of the most interesting aspects of real organisms are how they violate such oversimplifications. White-tailed deer present an intriguing example. Deer form discrete (but not rigid) groups, intermediate between solidarity and herding. These groups inhabit stable home ranges that overlap somewhat with others, producing an intermediate level of social interaction. My lab is exploring the implications of these behavioral patterns for direct and indirect transmission of disease, combining extensive GPS telemetry data with detailed simulation models, plus more general models. First, I present some basic concepts underlying disease models, and show how even basic patterns of animal space use (such as having a stable home range) confound those models. In the case of deer, we have been examining how strongly direct and indirect contacts (which could spread disease) are compartmentalized within social groups. Some especially intriguing results have arisen when we combine complementary methodologies for determining when animals come into contact. Currently, we are experimentally testing “social need” as a mechanism for frequency-dependent transmission. Our findings highlight the poor fit between simple models and the reality of deer biology, and the complex factors influencing their host-pathogen dynamics.
Dr. Schauber grew up catching snakes, salamanders, and whatever else moved slowly enough in the suburbs of Massachusetts. He received his B.S. in Wildlife Biology from the University of Massachusetts (Amherst) in 1992, M.S. in Wildlife Science from Oregon State University in 1994, and a Ph.D. in Ecology from the University of Connecticut in 2000. After a postdoctoral stint at the Institute of Ecosystem Studies, Dr. Schauber joined the Cooperative Wildlife Research Laboratory and Department of Zoology faculty at Southern Illinois University (Carbondale) in 2002, where he now holds the title of Associate Professor. His research focuses on the ecology of wild mammals, with emphasis on predator-prey interactions and wildlife diseases.