Our current research is focused on two wildlife disease systems 1) chronic wasting disease (CWD) in white-tailed deer (Odocoileus virginianus) in the Midwest, and 2) anthrax in herbivorous mammals in Namibia and South Africa.
Chronic wasting disease (CWD) in white-tailed deer
The Turner lab Deer Ecology and Disease (DEAD) team studies the prion disease CWD in Wisconsin deer. Prions, like the anthrax bacterium, are disease agents that are highly persistent in the environment, and we are studying how this persistence affects disease transmission dynamics of CWD in white-tailed deer. The Turner lab’s CWD research investigates how host ecology and prion persistence affect disease transmission, and in turn host population dynamics, at different stages of disease invasion into an area. We investigate how deer harvest management in the Midwestern U.S. changed with the invasion of CWD into the region, and the effectiveness of these efforts at slowing the spread of CWD. Another project evaluates relationships between deer movement ecology and CWD transmission dynamics. Another project investigates how supplemental feeding of deer affects prion concentrations and deer behavior in Tennessee. New projects are starting soon will study CWD transmission dynamics from direct and indirect transmission sources and pneumonia metagenomics in deer. Our CWD program is funded by the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources, the US Geological Survey, and the USDA.
Anthrax in African wildlife
Our research group and collaborators study anthrax disease dynamics and pathogen evolution comparing two savanna ecosystems in southern Africa. This project links within-host, between-host, and in-environment processes, to understand how conflicting selective pressures impact pathogen diversity, host resistance and disease incidence, and ultimately, how these processes drive variation in host-pathogen co-evolution across large spatial scales. This NSF-funded project builds upon detailed records of host population dynamics, anthrax mortalities, environmental factors, and data collected on pathogen diversity, host ecology, behavior, physiology and immunology.
Amélie is developing models of anthrax transmission dynamics. She uses agent-based models to investigate the interactions of Bacillus anthracis with its herbivorous hosts comparing two ecosystems in southern Africa that vary in outbreak dynamics. (Wendy Turner) (Ph.D., Wildlife).
Kimberlie is studying anthrax transmission dynamics in a guild of herbivorous mammals, investigating how environmental variation affects host physiology, movement patterns, anthrax exposure risk and predation risk. (Wendy Turner) (Ph.D., Wildlife).
Sunday is studying the ecology of anthrax in South Africa, and developing improved serological and molecular techniques for identifying Bacillus anthracis infections versus genetically similar microbial neighbors.(Wendy Turner) (M.S., Veterinary Tropical Diseases, University of Pretoria, co-advised by Henriette van Heerden).
Alison is a statistician building an integrated population model to understand white-tailed deer population dynamics in the chronic wasting disease (CWD) endemic region of southwest Wisconsin and the effects of CWD on deer survival. (Wendy Turner) (Scientist II).
Marie is a quantitative ecologist studying deer movement ecology and CWD transmission in southwest Wisconsin and is the veterinarian overseeing our deer captures. Her project investigates the impact of CWD infection on deer movement behavior, and the impact of deer movements and contacts on CWD spread. (Wendy Turner) (Scientist I).
Heather is developing and managing our new prion lab at UW-Madison. Her project is studying prion deposition at CWD positive deer carcass sites and the effect of scavengers on environmental prion concentrations and CWD transmission risk. (Wendy Turner) (Post-doctoral Researcher).
John is leveraging historical information maintained by state agencies to evaluate impacts of CWD management activities on white-tailed deer population and disease dynamics, and to establish a framework that will improve coordination and information exchange. (Wendy Turner, co-mentored by Dan Walsh at MT-W-CRU). (Post-doctoral Researcher).
Nurul is a graduate student/veterinarian developing a research project on white-tailed deer behaviors and chronic wasting disease transmission risk in southwest Wisconsin. (Wendy Turner) (Ph.D., Wildlife).
Stephanie is studying prion accumulation in soils at deer scrapes and food plots and white-tailed deer behaviors that shed prions and expose deer to prions in the environment. (Wendy Turner) (M.S., Wildlife).
Aaron is a graduate student developing a project on coyote and bobcat movement ecology, predation/scavenging of white-tailed deer, and effects on chronic wasting disease spread. (Wendy Turner) (M.S., Wildlife).