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Monday, April 17, 2017
3:00 PM - 4:00 PM
CNLS Conference Room (TA-3, Bldg 1690)


Data-driven spatial modeling of rodent dynamics and zoonotic disease risk in post-Katrina New Orleans

Rosalyn Rael
Tulane/Xavier Center for Bioenvironmental Research

Following a natural disaster, ecological and societal communities concurrently change and reassemble in response to one another. This recovery process can potentially provide opportunities for human commensal pest species to recover and spread quickly. Norway rats are common urban pests that can carry and transmit zoonotic pathogens, posing a potential health risk to humans and domestic animals. Though they are globally widespread, little is known about how natural and human-related changes in urban landscapes affect the population dynamics and movement of this species. As part of an interdisciplinary project investigating long-term recovery of human and natural systems in New Orleans, Louisiana after Hurricane Katrina, I am designing and implementing a “flow network” model of movement and dynamics of Norway rat populations across a spatially heterogeneous urban habitat. I will describe how node arrangement affects the speed of network occupancy, and I will discuss the effects of simulating control strategies by altering properties of network nodes (locations), and edges (movement routes). I will also describe how we are using our data on rat demographics and genetics gathered by trapping rodents, along with ground cover vegetation data and GIS data on other landscape characteristics to parameterize dynamic components of the model. I will also discuss current rodent pathogen data, and how we will use our model as a tool for exploring hypotheses of gene flow across the New Orleans landscape and the implications for disease risk.

Host: Carrie Manore