Behavioral Predictors of Zoonotic Diversity in Carnivora

Student Classification


Faculty Mentor

Suzanne O'Regan, Department of Mathematics and Statistics, North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State University


Computer Engineering

Document Type


Publication Date

Spring 4-2021


Carnivores carry numerous zoonotic diseases, despite not having many species relative to other species. To investigate why their zoonotic diversity is so high and under what conditions there is an epidemic, we investigate a data set of 223 carnivores' life history traits, diets, and diseases. After data mining this data set, we found the three most commonly held diseases for carnivores in our data set are toxoplasmosis, rabies, and leptospirosis. These are all caused by micro parasites, which may indicate that carnivore predators get diseases from their prey. Predator prey dynamics are hypothesized to follow Susceptible-Infectious-Susceptible-Infectious dynamics. We use SI SI models along with our carnivore trait data to determine what traits lead carnivores to become reservoir hosts. Our results suggest that carnivore reservoirs tend to have a small to medium body mass and eat a wide variety of prey (endotherms, ectotherms, fish, vertebrates, or scavenge).

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