Recap from the 2018 VectorBiTE workshop: Vector Behavior in Transmission Ecology by the Quantitative Ecological Dynamics Lab
June 21, 2018
BY FADOUA EL MOUSTAID
The Quantitative Ecological Dynamics Lab, led by Leah Johnson, just wrapped up a third VectorBiTE workshop at the Asilomar Conference Center in Pacific Grove, CA. The VectorBiTE project is a Research Coordination Network that seeks to build a collaborative network of interdisciplinary researchers to investigate the effect of vector behavior and life history on transmission dynamics. More about the goals and the organizing team can be found at http://vectorbite.org/about-rcn/.
As it has become well known, disease dynamics are sensitive to climate change. Vectors, usually small bodied ectotherms, change their behavior and life histories according to changes in temperature, precipitation, and humidity. This contributes to variation in transmission of vector-borne diseases (VBDs) leading to environmentally mediated outbreaks. As a result, it is crucial to consider climate factors, both in theory and practice, when studying disease dynamics. Our first two VectorBiTE meetings successfully brought empiricists and theoreticians together to discuss what we know and what don’t, and to begin to identify the most pressing questions to address to improve our understanding of climate impacts on VBDs. So far there have been two systematic reviews published by VectorBiTE working groups, and further reviews and research papers are planned.
This year’s meeting consisted of two portions: a training session on quantitative tools for VBDs and an open session aimed at providing time for working groups to form and meet. In the training session, the goal was to teach participants (grad students and postdocs) quantitative tools that can be used to solve previously generated questions. Instructors for the workshop included researchers from Virginia Tech, Imperial College London, and Stanford, specifically:
Leah Johnson, GCC Faculty at Virginia Tech
Samraat Pawar, Faculty at Imperial College London
Fadoua El Moustaid, Ph.D. Candidate and IGC Fellow at Virginia Tech
Marta Shocket, Postdoc at Stanford University
Matt Watts, Ph.D. student at Imperial College London