February 24 2016

12:00 LSB 2320

Paul Cross
Northern Rocky Mountain Science Center, USGS

Fetal attraction and hot flashes: Diseases of wolves and elk in the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem


The Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem (GYE) has a long history of ecological research on elk and wolves. Only recently, however, has there been a focus in the GYE on how these hosts affect their parasites and vice versa. This talk covers a series of studies of brucellosis in elk as well as mange in wolves. Brucellosis appears to be increasing the elk populations around the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem with a coincident increase in cattle outbreaks. Using whole genome sequencing we found that brucellosis was introduced into wildlife in this region at least five times and that free-ranging elk are a self-sustaining brucellosis reservoir and the source of current livestock infections. Wolves were re-introduced to the GYE relatively free of pathogens and parasites, but have acquired them over time, most notably canine distemper virus and sarcoptic mange. Leveraging citizen science efforts we found that mangy wolves experienced increased mortality in smaller packs and with more infected pack-mates. The social support of group hunting and territory defense are two possible mechanisms mediating infection costs. In addition, we used thermal imagery to estimate the energetic costs of hairloss in winter. We predict that during the winter in Montana, more severe mange infection increases heat loss by around 1240 to 2850 kcal (a 65% to 78% increase) for small and large wolves, respectively. We pair these results with data from GPS-collared wolves to investigate how wolves may mitigate these energy costs by reducing their movement rates. We conclude with a discussion of the “One Health” discipline and a meta-analysis of whether we are achieving our goals of a more integrated discipline.















































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































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