Ecology of vector-borne disease threats to Galapagos avifauna

Profile Display Name:

Liam Fitzpatrick

E-mail Address:

Start Year

2016 (Cohort 3)

Research interests:

Epidemiology and ecology of infectious diseases involving wildlife.

Hobbies and interests:
PhD Project
PhD Title

Ecology of vector-borne disease threats to Galapagos avifauna

Research Theme

Natural and Biological Hazards

Primary Supervisor
Primary Institution


Secondary Supervisor
Secondary Institution



Emerging infectious diseases pose a major threat to global biodiversity and are a primary cause of species extinctions across a range of taxa. A high-profile example of this is avian malaria in Hawaii, where an invasive mosquito, Culex quinquefasciatus, facilitated the transmission of Plasmodium parasites to susceptible endemic birds causing population declines and extinctions. With the discovery of this same invasive mosquito species in the Galápagos archipelago in the 1980s, conservationists are concerned that avian malaria could pose a similar threat to the islands’ iconic, endemic birds. Given that the Plasmodium parasite was also recently detected in Galápagos birds for the first time, there is a pressing need to understand this potential threat. My research aims to enhance the knowledge of the roles that introduced and native mosquitoes (Culex quinquefasciatus and Aedes taeniorhynchus) play in vectoring avian malaria parasites in Galápagos. This project will use vector competence studies to determine the parasite transmission capabilities of each species, map the spatiotemporal distributions of the mosquitoes and identify how this impacts their host-feeding preferences as well as screening mosquitoes for avian pathogens to understand their current status in the wild. These results will inform conservation strategies and biosecurity policies for vector-borne diseases in the Galápagos islands.

Policy Impact
Background Reading

Dr Laura Kramer (New York State Department of Health) website:
Professor Patricia Parker (University of Missouri – Saint Louis) website:
Dr Marilyn Cruz (Agencia de Regulacion y Control de la Bioseguirdad y Cuarantena para Galapagos) website:
Dr Jorge Carrion (Parque Nacional Galapagos) website:
Dr Simon Goodman (University of Leeds) website:

Grants and awards
  • Field Research for Conservation – Saint Louis Zoo
  • International Travel and Fieldwork Grant – British Society for Parasitology
  • Daisy Balogh Travel Award – Zoological Society of London
  • Postgraduate Research Fund – Queen Mary, University of London
  • Field Research for Conservation – Saint Louis Zoo


Conferences and Workshops
  • Dynamic Earth – DTP Conference 2019 (September 2019). Poster: Mosquito ecology and avian malaria in the Galapagos islands.
  • Annual Symposium – 59th Anniversary of Galapagos National Park (March 2018). Talk: Malaria Aviar en el archipiélago de Galápagos.
DTP Activities
Social Links
University Departmental Website:
Personal Website:



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