The ability of most pathogens to infect multiple host species significantly impacts human health, economies and ecosystems globally. In an ideal world, pathogens might be managed within their natural hosts in order to limit these impacts, but there are numerous ecological, evolutionary and anthropogenic barriers that prevent us from doing so in smart ways that are guided by evidence. Our group uses a range of approaches – spanning longitudinal field studies in wild bats, phylodynamics, machine learning, metagenomics and epidemiological modeling – to identify and develop solutions for real-world disease problems. A few questions we are currently addressing are:
- What are the ecological and epidemiological consequences of culling vampire bats on rabies incidence in bats and livestock?
- What are the spatial and temporal limits to outbreak forecasting?
- Would transmissible recombinant viral vaccines be an effective tool for bat rabies management?
- Is it possible to predict the ecological origins of viruses from their genome sequences?
- Are viral communities predictable? What landscape, population and individual determines their spatiotemporal structure?
We aim to bridge real-world relevance with fundamental questions that arise from viewing infectious disease dynamics through an ecological and evolutionary lens.