USGS Changing Arctic Ecosystems: Wildlife disease in a changing ArcticChanging environmental conditions at northern latitudes is projected to result in northward shifts in the distributions of many species and increased contact between historically segregated species, providing opportunities for pathogen exchange between marine and terrestrial hosts. However, little is known about the current distribution and prevalence of infectious diseases in the arctic region.
Changing environmental conditions in the Arctic, primarily loss of sea ice, has resulted in larger aggregations of animals along the northern Alaskan coastline and increased contact between historically segregated species, providing opportunities for pathogen exchange between marine and terrestrial hosts. However, little is known about the current distribution and prevalence of infectious diseases in this region. To address existing information gaps, we will conduct a community-wide assessment of pathogens and parasites in wildlife on the Arctic Coastal Plain of Alaska. Species of interest include Arctic fox, small mammals, geese, caribou, polar bears, and Pacific walruses. Sampling will be coordinated with ongoing studies conducted by USGS-ASC internal collaborators and partner agencies and will provide baseline health indices for populations of interest. Using a combination of serology, PCR, and other diagnostic techniques, we will screen for pathogens and parasites of both wildlife and zoonotic concern. Using molecular and dietary analysis, we will also attempt to identify common sources of exposure and potential transmission pathways between species and between the marine-terrestrial interface. Results from this study will help to inform our knowledge of wildlife and human health and emerging disease threats in a rapidly changing Arctic environment.
ContactsVan Hemert, Caroline R., 907-786-7167
Start Year: 2015
End Year: 2019