From individual behaviour to population-level transmission: bridging disease ecology scales with the amphibian pathogen Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis


Bryony Allen

My research focusses on identifying the behavioural processes that drive disease transmission, within multi-host communities, using a pathogen of major conservation concern.

Many important pathogens circulate within multi-host communities. Within these communities individuals can differ in their susceptibility, infectiousness and response to infection, which influences disease transmission. This is particularly true with the amphibian disease, Chytridmycosis.

Chytridmycosis, caused by the fungal pathogen Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis (Bd), is a disease affecting amphibians globally, causing dramatic declines and extinctions. Bd exhibits huge variability in infection within and between species, with some individuals being tolerant and others experiencing fatality. Individual-level host behaviour (e.g. social behaviour, habitat preference) may provide insight into the variation in disease transmission and prevalence across the host community.

I will be tackling this question using a combination of field observations, laboratory experimentation and modelling. Studying wild amphibian populations in Penalara National Park in Spain, the index site of Bd emergence in Europe, which has been monitered long-term by a team of researchers including my CASE partner, the Zoological Society of London (ZSL). I plan to pair this data with mesocosm experiments with a view to create a predictive framework to understand how individual-level behaviour influences disease transmission.

Twitter @Bryony_E_Allen

Education

MRes. Ecology, Evolution and Conservation, Distinction; Imperial College London, (2014-2015)

Skills and relevant qualifications

Social Network Analysis

Work experience

Molecular Lab Technician – Nature Metrics (2017); Research Assistant – Imperial College London (2015-2017); Field Assistant – Royal Veterinary College (2015)