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Effects of Human Disturbance on Primate-Disease DynamicsEPA Grant Number: U915983
Title: Effects of Human Disturbance on Primate-Disease Dynamics
Investigators: Gillespie, Thomas R.
Institution: University of Florida
EPA Project Officer: Just, Theodore J.
Project Period: January 1, 2001 through January 1, 2004
Project Amount: $83,546
RFA: STAR Graduate Fellowships (2001) RFA Text | Recipients Lists
Research Category: Fellowship - Terrestrial Ecology and Ecosystems , Academic Fellowships , Ecological Indicators/Assessment/Restoration
Emerging tropical diseases, such as AIDS and Ebola, have raised global awareness of the strong linkage between biodiversity conservation and the health of wildlife and human populations. To effectively understand the dynamics of emerging diseases, we must evaluate the interplay among alteration and fragmentation of tropical forests, wildlife-human disease linkages, and the ecology of novel diseases. The objective of this research project is to examine the effects of various forms of human disturbance on primate-parasite dynamics in African tropical forests. Forest fragmentation and high-intensity, selective logging dominate habitat-modification patterns throughout the tropics. An understanding of how these manifestations of human disturbance affect primate-disease dynamics is of central importance in designing effective conservation and management plans.
Using Kibale National Park in Uganda as a case study, I will examine the hypothesis that forest fragmentation and high-intensity, selective logging result in a higher prevalence of infections and a higher incidence of behavioral responses to infection. I compare the prevalence of parasite infections of primates in these areas to primates in "pristine," control forests for seven common primate species at Kibale. In addition, I conduct more detailed studies of infection risk and behavioral responses to infection (i.e., self medication, grooming, and ranging behavior) for two colobine species, the red colobus (Procolobus badius) and black-and-white colobus (Colobus guereza).