DISSERTATION RESEARCH: Primate Re-infection with Environmentally Transmitted Parasites: a Field Experiment

  • Goldberg, Tony L. (PI)
  • Friant, Sagan S.R. (CoPI)

Project: Research project

Project Details


As our social environment changes, combinations of physical, biological and social stressors are increasingly affecting human health. Using a social group of red-capped mangabeys in Nigeria naturally re-infected with environmentally transmitted pathogens, this research will take a novel and interdisciplinary approach to understanding how human societies respond to emerging environmental health threats. This study will provide data that can help inform real and lasting solutions to the great problem of health disparities in the United States today. These research activities will foster scholarly cooperation between academic institutions in the US and Sub-Saharan Africa. Additionally, research activities in the field will have both direct and indirect benefits to endangered species and vulnerable habitats. The dissemination of the results to diverse audiences will enhance translational value of this research and increase public scientific literacy. Finally, because primate populations make good models for social animals, including human societies, the results will benefit the well-being of humans and wildlife living in shared changing environments globally.

The study will examine how primate behavior, stress, and social and health status influence susceptibility to infection during host exposure to new pathogens. Specifically, red-capped mangabeys will be followed after a de-worming event, and patterns of re-infection with gastrointestinal parasites will be measured. Fecal samples and behavioral data will be collected using combined focal and ad libitum sampling and will be used to measure individual host characteristics influencing exposure and susceptibility to infection and ensuing reductions in fitness. Laboratory analyses of gastro-intestinal parasites and stress hormone analysis will be conducted using high-performance liquid chromatography to predict individual levels of infection and re-infection. Lastly, data from social interactions will also be analyzed using UCINET to explore social network and proximity characteristics of exposure and susceptibility. Data from parasites recovered from non-human primates will be submitted to the Global Mammal Parasite Database (http://www.mammalparasites.org/ ).

Effective start/end date8/1/147/31/15


  • National Science Foundation: $19,565.00


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