A team of anthropologists received funding from the Gabon-Oregon Center to study primates and elephants in Gabon. The UO's Dr. Nelson Ting and the Smithsonian Institution's Dr. Mireille Johnson will look at disease transmission and migration patterns among elephants and gorillas in Gabon using genetics.
Due to the modification of habitats from human activity in zones that surround protected areas, wildlife communities inside national parks can become isolated and suffer from losses in genetic diversity, inbreeding, and eventual local extinction. One way to mitigate these impacts is to allow animals to migrate between national parks through habitat connectivity. This team will asses how human activities have affected animal migration in areas that intervene between national parks. They will also study how these human modified landscapes can alter patterns of disease transmission, as infectious diseases are susceptible to environmental change.
Dr. Nelson Ting traveled to the Gamba region in Gabon in September 2015 to connect with his partner Dr. Mireille Johnson and collect preliminary data. Dr. Ting is an expert in the study of primates, and will bring this expertise to an analysis of genetics in Gabon's gorilla population. Dr. Mireille Johnson is an expert in Gabon's elephant population, and has been studying these animals in the Gamba region for many years. As two of the country's keystone species, this study will have important implications in terms of understanding the transmission of diseases among these animals and the link to their migration patterns within Gabon's borders.