Funding: école doctorale ES
Supervisors: Bruno Faivre and Stéphane Garnier
Habitat fragmentation is a major threat to biodiversity, as it is responsible for populations and species declines. Despite a large body of literature focusing on the impact of fragmentation on species abundance and diversity, changes in ecological and evolutionary processes due to these two global changes remain poorly understood. This project aims to assess the effects of forest fragmentation on host-parasite interactions, with a special focus on the role of genetic diversity in host populations, and using several Caribbean bird species and avian malaria as a biological system. This project relies on a large collection of samples and data already available. Levels of hosts' infection (prevalence, parasite load, parasite diversity) assessed by molecular methods will be compared between forests more or less fragmented. In order to explore mechanisms responsible for the effect of fragmentation on the outcome of host-parasite interactions, a landscape genetic approach will be used to assess landscape connectivity and its influence on the genetic diversity of host populations. In addition, physiological costs of habitat alteration will be estimated by comparing birds' condition and immunocompetence between large/small and isolated/connected forests fragments.
habitat fragmentation, avian malaria, Caribbean, genetic diversity
Karen McCoy, IRD Montpellier