Does tuberculosis infection impact meerkat movement?
Department of Evolutionary Biology and Environmental Studies, University of Zurich
The movement decisions of animals impact resource distribution and disease transmission. In turn, diseases can modify the behaviour, physiology, and social relationships of an animal, as well as affecting group dynamics. Tuberculosis (TB) is a threat globally to humans, livestock, and wildlife. It has economic, public health, and conservation importance. One strain of TB, Mycobacterium suricattae, is endemic to this population of meerkats. TB can be fatal to meerkats, causing clinical symptoms such as swellings, fatigue, and laboured breathing. Infection with TB has caused group level extinctions. To gain a better understanding of how TB affects meerkat behaviour at the individual and group level, I will look at how infection of TB impacts the group movements of meerkats using long-term GPS, life history, and health data.