Vector-borne disease in a changing world: Insights from ecology across scales

Monday, January 23, 2017
11:30 AM - 1:00 PM

Encina Hall, 2nd floor

Abstract: Globally, infectious diseases are emerging at an increasing rate. Vector-borne diseases in particular present one of the biggest threats to public health globally. Many of these diseases are zoonotic, meaning they cycle in animal populations but can spillover to infect humans. As a result, risk to humans of acquiring a zoonotic or vector-borne disease largely depends on the distribution and abundance of the reservoir hosts—the species of animals that pathogens naturally infect—as well as of the vector species. The ecology of many reservoir hosts and vectors is rapidly changing due to global change, which will fundamentally alter human disease risk in as yet unforeseen ways. In this talk, I will present and discuss three lines of research aimed at identifying drivers of disease emergence and risk at multiple spatial scales including 1) the ecological and environmental drivers of Lyme disease in California, 2) the roles of human behavior and land use in driving human Lyme disease in the northeastern US, and 3) effects of deforestation, land use policy and socio-ecological feedbacks in driving malaria in the Brazilian Amazon.

About the Speaker: Andrew MacDonald is a disease ecologist and a National Science Foundation Postdoctoral Fellow in Biology at Stanford University. He received his PhD from the Department of Ecology, Evolution and Marine Biology at the University of California, Santa Barbara in September 2016. His dissertation focused on the effect of land use and environmental change on tick-borne disease risk in California and the northeastern US. His current work focuses on coupled natural-human system feedbacks and land use change as drivers of mosquito-borne disease, with a focus on malaria in the Amazon basin.