by Dr. Nita Bharti

Dynamics of humans, bats, and pathogens

Dynamics of humans, bats, and pathogens

 
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dynamics of humans, bats, and pathogens

A dream team of interdisciplinary scientists led by Raina Plowright, we work on understanding the mechanistic links between the environment, human behavior, and wildlife to characterize spillover events of the deadly Hendra virus in Australia. We are bat1health.

Human population growth, land development, and loss of native forests has displaced flying foxes (bats). We’re working to identify the critical areas and species of habitat loss for these flying foxes. We want to target those for preservation and restoration to help maintain the flying foxes’ important ecological services as pollinators. Since these flying foxes are the reservoir host for Hendra virus, we are also using this approach to draw the bats back into their native habitat to minimize their contact with competent hosts in the human environment. The end result would be a health improvement for the environment, the flying foxes, and the species that make up the human environment.

1993: anthropogenic illumination shows location and abundance of human populations

1993: anthropogenic illumination shows location and abundance of human populations

2013: anthropogenic illumination shows signifiant increase in human populations

2013: anthropogenic illumination shows signifiant increase in human populations

During a team meeting in December 2017, we visited infected properties in New South Wales, met with local vets and management teams, met the incredible volunteers behind bat rehabilitation centers, and collected biological samples under roosts. Under roost sampling is grueling field work that some members of the team conduct all year.

An orphaned baby black flying fox, Teven, receiving care and nutrition at a wildlife sanctuary.

The team stands around while Liam gets beamed off the planet.

The team stands around while Liam gets beamed off the planet.

 
Liam, animated, explaining something. Perhaps his experience of being beamed off the planet.

Liam, animated, explaining something. Perhaps his experience of being beamed off the planet.

A remarkable location and building for a scientific meeting.

A remarkable location and building for a scientific meeting.

Choppy scenes from a scientific meeting.