Plant and Animal Diseases

Our Research

Diseases matter – the COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted the fundamental importance of the ecology of disease both in humans and in other organisms and highlighted the links between our own diseases and those of other animals and plants.

Disease Ecology

Sub-clinical impacts of parasitic infection are of growing concern. Using avian systems we study the influence of vector behaviour on parasite transmission, associations between parasitism and behaviour (including individual behavioural syndromes, or personality types), and the implications these may have for populations across generations through delayed life-history effects. We also consider how multiple stress factors (e.g. food quality/limitation, parasite infection, coinfection, predator abundance) interact in wild populations, especially those in decline, and the implications these interactions have for the conservation of populations.

Nutrition and Disease

Many factors can impact the outcome of infections, but the role of nutrition is one of the most widely recognised. In humans, protein malnutrition is a major contributor to morbidity and mortality due to infectious diseases and over-nutrition may impair immune function. Animals have been shown to change their diets when infected to improve the outcome of infection, known as self-medication. We study how intrinsic (e.g. age, sex, nutritional status) and extrinsic factors (e.g. pathogen risk, population density) simultaneously shape the interaction between hosts and their parasites.

Dr Sheena Cotter – Eco-immunology, nutritional ecology, host-parasite interactions, insect ecology

Dr Jenny Dunn – Host-parasite interactions and parasite transmission in wildlife

Professor Mat Goddard – Population and community ecology

Dr Carl Soulsbury – Behavioural ecology and evolutionary biology

Dr Sandra Varga – Plant and soil ecology