ECOPATH  (IPEV n°1151)     (2015-2022)

Title: Circulation of directly transmitted and tick-borne infectious agents in sub-Antarctic and Antarctic colonial vertebrate populations: surveillance, understanding and management implications

ECOPATH_logo_network_2019        DSCF4500

Abstract: Describing and understanding factors affecting the distribution and circulation of infectious agents in animal populations is important for basic and applied reasons. Populations of wild vertebrates living in southern polar areas are increasingly the subject of threats from infectious diseases, which can add to other environmental threats, and it is becoming critical to establish baseline data and sound understanding of the dynamics of host-parasite interactions in these systems. In some instance, such information can have clear potential management implications. Populations of vertebrates breeding in colonies are especially important to study in those respects because they are distributed in very discrete units among and within which the transmission of infectious agents can be affected by various processes and can lead to disease outbreaks than can affect hundreds to thousands of individuals at the same time. In this project, we plan to explore how large scale dispersal processes and more local interactions between hosts and parasites can affect the dynamics of circulation of infectious agents and the occurrence of possible outbreaks. In order to do so, we will combine complementary methodological approaches from different fields, involving notably laboratory analyses of biological samples gathered in the field on identified individuals, the implementation of specific field experiments (notably using vaccination) and the parallel development of modelling approaches. Modern molecular technics as well as tracking devices will be used to address specific questions. The project will rely the results obtained by our team over the previous four years, notably on avian cholera on Amsterdam Island, and on the existing set of long-term IPEV research programs conducted on various key sites. The work will continue to be conducted in tight coordination with the TAF National Nature Reserve, with specific aspects which have been integrated in the Plan National d’Action Albatros d’Amsterdam and the Plan de Gestion of the Reserve. A specific focus will continue to be developed on infectious agents potentially responsible for large outbreaks, such as avian cholera, as well as on seabird ticks and tick-borne disease agents. Field work is planned to be conducted on the three districts of the French sub-Antarctic islands (Amsterdam, Kerguelen and Crozet), but also in other sub-antarctic areas, in order to address issues at local but also broad spatial scales.

Main persons in charge: Jérémy Tornos (PhD student/Postdoc CNRS), Aline Fléchet (VSC IPEV), Augustin Clessin (VSC IPEV), Corisande Abiven (VSC IPEV), Juliette Baron (VSC IPEV), Amandine Gamble (UCLA), Thierry Boulinier (PI)

Funding/Partners/Collaborators: French Polar Institute (IPEV), LTESR/Zone Atelier Antarctique (ZATA), SO ECOPOP of OSU OREME, Ceva Biovac, CEBC, Réserve Nationale Naturelle des Terres Australes


ECOPATHS (ANR AAPG 2021) (2022-2025)

Title: Ecology of the transmission of pathogens in south-polar vertebrates: surveillance, understanding and implication for conservation of biodiversity


Abstract: Describing and understanding factors affecting the distribution and transmission of pathogenic agents in wild animal populations is important for basic and applied reasons, notably in the current context of global change and recurrent emergences of infectious diseases, which can be related to human activities. Various tools can be used to track, understand and respond to the emergence of infectious agents. Here, we propose to integrate biomedical and molecular epidemiology approaches with population ecology and anthropological approaches to address those issues. Building on our experience in these fields and on the unique situation of sub-Antarctic islands (Crozet, Kerguelen and Amsterdam), where dense but threatened populations of colonial marine vertebrates (albatrosses, penguins, seals) breed in highly structured but relatively simple communities that can be affected by infectious diseases, we propose to address critical hypotheses on the processes underlying eco-epidemiological dynamics and their impacts.

A first axis of the work will focus on documenting how infectious agents are shared at a hierarchy of spatial scales among vertebrates host populations in the native vertebrate and introduced species communities of southern ocean islands. We will notably explore the potential usefulness of scavenger and predatory species, such as skuas and giant petrels, as epidemiological sentinels, and their potential roles as spreaders of pathogenic agents. A second axis will focus on the particular situation of Amsterdam Island, where recurrent epizooties of avian cholera are responsible for massive die-offs of nestlings of albatrosses and penguins, and where the test of the use of a vaccine approach is possibly hampered by the negative effects of introduced species like rats. That part of the project will uniquely benefit from the independently funded plan of eradication of introduced species from that island, to be implemented in 2023, and a collaboration with the stakeholder in charge of that eradication plan, the National Nature Reserve of the Terres Australes. A third axis will explore how modelling and social science approaches could be used to better apprehend the risks of emergence of infectious disease in such systems and ways to manage them.

The project benefits from involving a consortium of partners and collaborators with a broad range of complementary skills. It will also draw upon the use of samples and access to field set ups provided by the multi-year field research program ECOPATH (IPEV n°1151) supported by the French Polar Institute (funding of most of the field logistics). The results are expected to have broad basic and applied implications.

Funding/Partners/Collaborators : ANR + funders of IPEV ECOPATH / Laboratoire Santé Animale de l’ANSES Maisons-Alfort et Laboratoire d’Anthropologie Sociale, CNRS-EHESS-Collège de France, Paris + collaborators (Ceva Biovac, Glasgow University, Laboratoire Départemental Vétérinaire de Montpellier, Réserve Nationale Naturelle des Terres Australes – TAAF, INRS, projets IPEV 109, 119).

REMOVE_DISEASE (BiodivRestore call for proposals of Biodiversa & Water JPI) (2022-2025)


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PARASITO-ARCTIQUE  (IPEV n°333)     (1998-2022)

Title: Host-parasite interactions in space: dispersal and local interactions in arctic seabirds.

DSCF5658                           Kitiwakes_Shags

Abstract: The aim of this research program is to examine the response of animal populations to environmental variability at different spatial scales. The study system is a host-parasite system at three levels, involving arctic seabirds as hosts, the tick Ixodes uriae as their ectoparasite and microparasites such as Lyme disease agent Borrelia burgdorferi and arboviruses. The role of the variability in host phenotypic responses (immunology and behaviour) and of the coevolution between the hosts and the vector tick for the ecology and evolution of such interactions at different scales will be studied. In addition to laboratory analyses, the approach combines field experiment to the analyses of data recorded in a spatialised context.

Main persons in charge: Aurore Ponchon (University of Aberdeen), Amandine Gamble (UCLA), Jérémy Tornos (PhD student), Karen McCoy (MIVEGEC, co-PI), Thierry Boulinier (PI)

Funding/Partners/Collaborators: French Polar Institute (IPEV), NINA, SO ECOPOP of OSU OREME


SENTIMOUV     (2008-current)

Title: Spatial and demographic dynamics of disease transfer at the wildlife-human interface: Studying infectious disease transfer by seagulls


Abstract: The SENTIMOUV project will study the role of yellow-legged gulls (Larus michahellis) in spreading infectious diseases through access to human food sources. This coastal seabird is often found in the western Mediterranean basin, where it comes in contact with human food. The project will shed light on the ill-understood interaction between seabirds and pathogens, focusing on the spread of toxoplasmosis, tick-borne agents and avian influenza viruses. Among others, SENTIMOUV will study disease immunity in nestling birds and the dynamics of diseases through biologging and serological sampling to determine the cycle of wildlife transfer of disease. The goal is to develop an adaptable model for predicting and managing infectious diseases related to the wildlife-human interface.

Main persons in charge: Juliet Lamb (postdoc, co-PI), Amandine Gamble (UCLA), Jérémy Tornos (CEFE), Thierry Boulinier (PI)

Funding/Partners/Collaborators: EU Marie Curie Fellowship, SO ECOPOP of OSU OREME, LIENSs, Parc National des Calanques


SERODEER     (2019-2022)

Title: Serology of roe deers to map risk of exposure to Lyme disease agent


Abstract: The aim is to explore the possibility to use serology of roe deer against Lyme disease agent Borrelia burdgorferi sensu lato to map the risk of exposure to the disease agent at large scales and temporal dynamics. The approach will combine the analysis of long-term capture-mark/sample-recapture data with cross-sectional data.

Main persons in charge: Valentin Ollivier (PhD student), Rémi Choquet (CEFE), Amandine Gamble (UCLA), Hélène Verheyden (PhD co-supervision), Thierry Boulinier (PI)

Funding/Partners/Collaborators: ELIZ, CEFS INRAE, VetAgroSup, OFB, ANSES Maisons-Alfort


Spatial population ecology

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