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Research Fellows Directory

Andrew Cunningham

Professor Andrew Cunningham

Research Fellow

Organisation

Institute of Zoology

Research summary

My research primarily involves the investigation of disease threats to wildlife conservation, including identifying the proximate and underlying drivers of these threats. Infectious and non-infectious diseases can threaten wildlife in different ways, such as through directly causing mortality, depleting their prey base or by posing additional threats to human health or well-being, thus resulting in their persecution. My work on infection and spillover dynamics of zoonotic viruses in African bats is mostly based in the last area of disease threat, although I also am interested in elucidating the impact of these pathogens on the bats themselves and how this might be enhanced or decreased by human impacts on the environment, such as hunting and land use change. Bats are incredibly important “keystone” species for environmental function, including the provision of environmental services to human beings, therefore it is vital that we first understand what pathogens they harbour that can cause problems for people, how these pathogens “spill-over” into people and how best to prevent this from happening while still preserving the bats. This presents a tricky balance between wildlife conservation and public health, but as humans encroach further into wildlife habitat and as wildlife increasingly lives in close proximity to people, it is a balance that will increasingly need to be found if we are not to further increase the depletion of the Earth’s incredible biodiversity.

Grants awarded

Infection and spillover dynamics of zoonotic viruses in African bats

Scheme: Wolfson Research Merit Awards

Dates: Sep 2010 - Sep 2015

Value: £61,750