Parasitic worms, bacteria and viruses are a constant feature of the daily lives of most 'healthy' populations of animal and plant species. My research is concerned with the ecology of infectious diseases and the conservation of endangered and threatened species.
My research focuses on the population and community ecology of infectious diseases in a variety of endangered and fragile ecosystems: the Serengeti in East Africa, the coastal salt marshes and grasslands of California; the forest fragments of Malaysia and Bangladesh, and the eye’s of the finches in the back yards of New England. I also work on the interaction between climate variability and the transmission of malaria and cholera in India and Bangladesh. All of this research is sponsored by NIH, NSF or NOAA. Each study focuses on a different aspect of interactions between pathogens and their hosts that has allowed me to develop sections of a larger body of theory that deals with the role of infectious diseases in natural populations and communities. The theoretical work and its development is intimately tied to the empirical work, all of which is undertaken in collaboration with students, post-docs and colleagues at a variety of institutions.
My conservation work is focused upon the Serengeti region of Tanzania. While a significant emphasis has been upon the control of pathogens that can infect both wildlife and domestic species: rabies, rinderpest, brucellosis. I am also interested in the ecology and economics of land-use change, wildlife-human interactions and ecotourism. I am an active partner in the Serengeti BioComplexity Project, this provides a forum for everyone who works in the Serengeti to interact and develop ideas that can be more broadly applied to the conservation of East African grasslands.