I study wildlife and disease ecology. I focus on environmentally
transmitted parasites affecting herbivorous mammals (ungulates) in
southern African savannas. The parasites I study are transmitted to
hosts through ingestion of infectious stages in the environment
along with food or water, including gastrointestinal parasites
(nematodes and coccidia) and the anthrax bacterium, Bacillus
. Infection with these parasites is strongly seasonal; a common thread to my research is to study how environmental variation affects the transmission and incidence of parasitism.
For my postdoctoral research I am studying how B. anthracis
transmitted to grazing hosts, with a focus on plains zebra (Equus
) in Etosha National Park, Namibia. For this research I
am studying how the concentration of B. anthracis
grass leaves varies with rainfall. I'm also using motion triggered
cameras at carcass and control sites to monitor herbivory at sites
where anthrax carcasses were located. I will use these studies to
assess if the seasonality of anthrax incidence in grazing hosts can
be predicted based on seasonal changes in exposure to B.
at locally infectious carcass sites.
My Ph.D. research was also based in Etosha National Park, where I studied host-parasite relationships in an assemblage of 13 herbivorous mammals (ranging in size from warthogs to elephants) and their gastrointestinal parasites. I examined how host-parasite relationships were modulated by host ecology, parasite interactions and environmental variability.
My Master's research was on the activity patterns of African buffalo in Hluhluwe-iMfolozi Park, South Africa, to understand why males exhibit alternating sexual segregation during the mating season, moving in and out of breeding herds.
A springbok nursing her lamb. Adult female springbok have higher parasitism and poorer condition than males