Research roundup: Tracking how disease spreads among Serengeti lions

June 28, 2019

Nick Fountain-Jones, PhD, a postdoctoral associate in the lab of Meggan Craft, PhD, recently led a team of University of Minnesota researchers to complete a ten-year study exploring how pathogens—disease-causing bacteria, viruses, or other microorganisms—spread among Serengeti lions. Researchers focused on pathogen interactions that were both endemic (those that are constantly circulating and only infecting young cubs) and epidemic (those that sweep through entire populations every few years, affecting lions of all ages). Figuring out how pathogens interact on a basic level provides insight into how outside factors like time and environment further influence pathogen interaction. The study found that if lion cubs are infected with a specific endemic pathogen, they are more susceptible to being infected with certain epidemic pathogens later on in life. The results of this study also identified areas where scientists could improve the way that pathogens are studied, which would be instrumental in lowering the threat of wildlife population decline.

Read more in the March 12, 2019, issue of Ecology Letters