Myanmar Timber Elephant Project

Parasite associated mortality in Asian elephants out now in early view! Young, old and non-reproductive females are the most at risk

November 13, 2017

Fresh from her viva and with barely anytime in between, Dr. Carly Lynsdale’s new paper on patterns of parasite infection in the timber elephant population is out now in Ecology and Evolution! Find the paper here.

Parasites often infect some individuals more than others within wildlife populations, and understanding who is the most at risk of parasite infection will help target conservation strategies and management. This is supported by theory but has rarely been demonstrated in long-lived species.

And that is just where Carly’s study comes in. Mortality records from over 4000 individuals were used to pick apart who was most at risk. Individuals at the extremes of life span (young and old), and females who did not reproduce were all more likely to die of parasite-associated mortality that others in the population.

With this fantastic paper and our ongoing work, we are starting to understand the dynamics of parasite infection in this iconic long-lived species.