1:00 pm–2:00 pmTarget Audiences:
Liz VanWormer, firstname.lastname@example.org
Landscape composition and anthropogenic pressure can shape the transmission of pathogens between hosts in shared or adjacent habitats. Human-driven environmental changes such as urbanization can increase contact between people and animals, increasing the risk for pathogens to be transmitted at the human-domestic animal-wildlife interface. Toxoplasma gondii, a globally distributed zoonotic parasite shed by domestic and wild felids, can accumulate in terrestrial and aquatic environments leading to exposure in diverse hosts. As T. gondii can be spread through food webs (consumption of infected animal hosts) as well as by ingesting oocysts in contaminated soil, plants, and water, changes in landscape composition and configuration can impact exposure by changing contact among hosts or the potential for contacting oocysts in the environment. Although most animals and people infected with T. gondii experience mild or no clinical signs, the severity of the infection is highly dependent upon the immune system of the hosts and the strains of T. gondii involved. We used logistic regression to assess the association between landscape characteristics and T. gondii exposure as well as T. gondii genetic diversity in bobcats, coyotes, foxes and feral domestic cats from coastal California. We analyzed anthropogenic (human population density and global human footprint), demographic (sex and age), landscape composition (urbanized, agricultural, and less developed areas), and landscape configuration (diversity and evenness indices) factors as potential predictors. We found that landscape heterogeneity was positively associated with T. gondii exposure in feral cats. Animal age was consistently a strong predictor for exposure in all wild and domestic species. We also found associations between human population density and occurrence of novel atypical strains of T. gondii in wild host species. Results from this study provide insight into the ecology of T. gondii transmission among sympatric hosts in heterogeneous landscapes and highlight the need for further research to identify areas where new strains of T. gondii may emerge.
This event originated in SNR Seminars & Discussions.