Applying Ecological Theory to Understand Biological Diversity, Anthropogenic Disturbance, and Disease among Terrestrial Small Mammals in Western Uganda Open Access

Salzer, Johanna Sara (2014)

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Through the study of disease ecology, we seek to understand the mechanisms driving the complex interactions occurring among parasites, their hosts, and their environment. Ecologists dissect these complex ecological interactions through generalized principles, theories, and hypotheses. In order to understand the applicability and universality of these concepts, they must be applied to investigations conducted in natural systems. The aim of my dissertation was to test the generality of several ecological theories in a complex natural system. These studies were conducted in and around Kibale National Park, which is located in forested western Uganda. I examined terrestrial small mammal assemblages, consisting of members of the Order Rodentia (rodents) and Soricomorpha (shrews). These small mammals were collected from natural habitats experiencing varying intensities of anthropogenic disturbance. Additionally, I investigated the parasites they harbor, specifically poxviruses, Trypanosoma spp., Giardia spp., Cryptosporidium spp, and ectoparasites, which included fleas, lice, ticks, and mites. My work contributes to the field of disease ecology by exploring ideas and theories primarily restricted to less complex study systems. The four studies contained within my dissertation represent the successfully application of several foundational theories and novel ideas to improve our knowledge of how parasites are impacted by habitat disturbance and alterations in host community structure. My findings provide empirical evidence of the value and pitfalls of using generalized principles, theories, and hypotheses to understand host and disease dynamics in a complex natural system.

Table of Contents

CHAPTER 1 pg. 1

Introduction: Ecological theory and practice at the interface of biological diversity, anthropogenic disturbance, and disease

1.1 Theory and its role in disease ecology pg. 5

1.2 Examining the theory pg. 14

1.3 References pg. 17

CHAPTER 2 pg. 23

Effects of habitat disturbance on African small mammal communities

2.1 Summary pg. 23

2.2 Introduction pg. 24

2.3 Materials and Methods pg. 26

2.4 Results pg. 32

2.5 Discussion pg. 36

2.6 Figures pg. 44

2.7 Tables pg. 47

2.8 References pg. 49

CHAPTER 3 pg. 53

Effects of anthropogenic and demographic factors on patterns of parasitism in African small mammal communities

3.1 Summary pg. 53

3.2 Introduction pg. 54

3.3 Materials and Methods pg. 55

3.4 Results pg. 61

3.5 Discussion pg. 62

3.6 Figures pg. 66

3.7 Tables pg. 68

3.8 References pg. 70

CHAPTER 4 pg. 74

Effects of anthropogenic disturbance on native and invasive trypanosomes of rodents in forested Uganda

4.1 Summary pg. 74

4.2 Introduction pg. 75

4.3 Materials and Methods pg. 77

4.4 Results pg. 81

4.5 Discussion pg. 84

4.6 Figures pg. 91

4.7 Tables pg. 93

4.8 References pg. 94

CHAPTER 5 pg. 98

Serologic evidence for circulating orthopoxviruses in peridomestic rodents from rural Uganda

5.1 Summary pg. 98

5.2 Introduction pg. 99

5.3 Materials and Methods pg. 100

5.4 Results pg. 104

5.5 Discussion pg. 106

5.6 Figures pg. 110

5.7 References pg. 112

CHAPTER 6 pg. 115

Strengths, Limitations, and Conclusions

6.1 Key Findings and Strengths pg. 116

6.2 Limitations pg. 119

6.3 Future Direction and Next Steps pg. 122

6.4 References pg. 124

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