Liam Nash

Liam Nash

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Liam Nash
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Start Year

2018 (Cohort 5)

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PhD Project
PhD Title
Investigating predation by freshwater zooplankton on the zoospores of Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis, a fungal pathogen of amphibians
Research Theme
Biodiversity and Ecology
Primary Supervisor

Pavel Kratina

Primary Institution
Secondary Supervisor

Trent Garner

Secondary Institution

Predation upon parasites is an important and ubiquitous trophic interaction which can significantly affect transmission dynamics. Thus, understanding host-parasite systems requires knowledge of their position within wider ecological, predator-prey networks. The fungal parasite Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis (Bd) causes a disease of amphibians known as chytridiomycosis. It has a global distribution, yet huge heterogeneity in infection prevalence exists between amphibian populations at smaller spatial scales. Much of this variability is explained by abiotic factors, but the biotic community plays a significant role too. In nature, predatory zooplankton densities correlate with reduced risk of infection and, under experimental conditions, reduce the abundance of Bd’s infectious, free-swimming zoospores, with subsequent decreases in infection in hosts.

However, the fundamental feeding ecology of this relationship has not been quantified. Less understood is how whole communities of interacting zooplankton, rather than isolated species, may control transmission together. Here, using controlled mesocosm experiments, we aim to comprehensively examine this trophic-disease system. We hope to link Bd-amphibian infection dynamics with community networks through the predation by various taxa of freshwater zooplankton. Greater understanding of how this emergent infectious disease, of high conservation priority, is impacted by its environmental, may aid in the development of novel mitigation strategies

Policy Impact
Background Reading


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