Research objectives and content
The aim of this research project is first to assess the potential for parasite to induce declines in cooperative breeding species populations, and understand the involved mechanisms, and second, to study the potential of such inversely density-dependent populations to reach optimal size, once they have been reduced by a parasite. I will use field data collected during 4 years on several populations of social mongooses, mainly suricates, which provide an ideal experimental system for testing hypotheses concerning cooperative breeding species. I will use compartmental deterministic ODE models in which stochasticity will be included to account for epidemiological (infection, mortality) and ecological (immigration) related probabilities.
Training content (objective, benefit and expected impact)
Together with providing me further knowledge in different scientific areas of ecology, epidemiology and mathematical modelling in a highly qualified scientific environment, this project have an expected impact at two different levels. Fundamentally, it should provide a better understanding on the influence of parasites on their host populations, in particular in species with obligate cooperative breeding. On a more applied aspect, this study has the potential to provide new insights in the urging problem of decreasing populations of most endangered mammal social species, potentially allowing to set up new policies of population survey and management.
Links with industry / industrial relevance (22)