Daniel Becker, a postdoctoral researcher in the IU College of Arts and Sciences Department of Biology and in the IU Environmental Resilience Institute, studies zoonotic pathogens (infectious agents transmitted from nonhuman vertebrate animals to humans) in wild birds and bats. Combining field studies and theoretical models, he strives to better understand how pathogens spread within and between animal populations and species. Becker also looks at how environmental change alters infectious disease risks.
COVID-19, one of a growing number of human diseases with suspected nonhuman animal origins, makes Becker’s research increasingly critical.
As lead author on the paper "Macroimmunology: The drivers and consequences of spatial patterns in wildlife immune defence" published in the British Ecological Society's Journal of Animal Ecology, Becker provides new guidance for discovering patterns and identifying large-scale ecological drivers of variation in animal disease burden and immunity.
The British Ecological Society announced today that Becker has been given the Sidnie Manton Award for the best review article in the Journal of Animal Ecology by an early career researcher.
Lesley Lancaster, senior editor of the journal, noted, “The Novel Coronavirus pandemic has highlighted a need to document patterns and develop robust predictions for the spread of disease within and between wildlife and humans. Global-scale environmental changes such as climate change, urbanisation, and habitat loss are predicted to affect the spread of both disease and responses in hosts and pathogens.”
“Understanding drivers of disease may lead to better predictions and management of this and future pandemics,” Lancaster continued. “However, an integrative and synthetic approach to tackling these issues is often lacking, which has led some ecologists to call for the development of a broader field of global disease ecology. The ideas outlined in this winning paper are a step towards this goal.”