Elizabeth Hunter

Several published studies have already shown that temperature, precipitation and topography can affect the probability of a die-off event. However, a broader synthesis of datasets from across the BTPD range may enable more accurate prediction of when and where die-offs will occur. The APE lab is leading a large collaborative project to create predictive models of BTPD colony die-offs caused by the plague bacterium. We have acquired colony history data from across the BTPD range and are working on using machine learning techniques to create a model of plague outbreaks that can help managers determine how best to target their anti-plague management activities (such as “dusting” for fleas and vaccine administration). This model will also help us better understand the selection pressures that could lead to genetic resistance to plague.

Prairie dog burrow A BTPD burrow that has been “dusted” with insecticide to reduce the probability of plague transmission through fleas.

In 2020, our team received USDA/NIFA funding to build a more detailed model of boom-bust population dynamics in prairie dog metapopulations as part of a larger project focused on rangeland management:

“Understanding how to manage prairie dog population dynamics in the context of plague, climate, and livestock production”. USDA-AFRI. 2020-2023. $496,000 (PI: A.D. Davidson, Colorado State University)

Collaborators: * Ana Davidson, Colorado State University * Elizabeth Hunter, GSU * David Eads, Colorado State University

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