January 26 2011

12:00 LSB 2320

Paul Stapp
Department of Biological Sciences, CSU Fullerton

Unraveling the Mystery of Plague


Forecasting and controlling the spread of zoonotic diseases requires a thorough understanding of the ecology of the pathogen, its hosts and vectors. Plague, caused by the bacterium Yersinia pestis, was introduced to North America a century ago but the ecology of the disease in natural communities remains poorly understood, in part because disease dynamics are usually characterized by brief episodes of high host mortality (epizootics) and long periods of apparent quiescence. Like other social, semi-fossorial rodents, prairie dogs are highly susceptible to plague, resulting in the extinction of entire prairie dog colonies and altering the metapopulation structure of this important ecosystem engineer in the Great Plains. I will discuss results of our recent field and laboratory research and modeling to understand the dynamics of plague in black-tailed prairie dogs, focusing in particular on the roles of alternative rodent hosts, fleas and mammalian carnivores in the facilitating the spread of the pathogen during epizootics and in enzootic persistence during inter-epizootic periods











































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































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