NSF grant for studying vampire bat rabies
Wednesday, July 06, 2011
Professor Pej Rohani was awarded just over $25,000 for 18 months from the National Science Foundation and the University of Georgia for his research on vampire bat rabies as a supplement to his $580,000 NSF/UG grant from June 2010.
According to Rohani, this research takes advantage of the rapidly expanding livestock rearing industry in Latin America as a large-scale natural experiment to explore interactions between a species that has benefited from this dramatically shifting landscape, the common vampire bat (Desmodus rotundus), and its directly transmitted pathogen, rabies virus. The researchers’ goal is to examine how vampire bat feeding behavior, population demography and dispersal respond to resource supplementation by humans, and how these collectively influence the persistence and spatial spread of rabies.
“We will accomplish this goal through a combination of observational field studies, laboratory challenge experiments, phylogenetic analyses and mathematical modeling,” he said.
“To our knowledge, this study represents one of the most comprehensive analyses to date of how host responses to changing resource availability can influence the dynamics of infectious diseases,” he said. Their work will enhance understanding of fundamental concepts in host-pathogen dynamics, and will provide important knowledge of the demography and behavior of vampire bat populations in Latin America. The international and interdisciplinary nature of this project will provide numerous opportunities for training of international students.
“We anticipate that by better informing the public's perception of bats and their role in rabies transmission, our work will have direct benefits for conservation and human health, while simultaneously addressing an issue of growing economic and public health significance in a developing country.”
Image credit: vampire bat from JLplusAL's Photostream
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