The Malayan flying fox, Pteropus vampyrus, has recently been identified as the primary natural reservoir for Nipah Virus, a novel and deadly zoonotic disease. Understanding the population structure of this animal has broad implications for human health. Genetic data will be used to infer historical and current patterns of migration to help elucidate the mechanisms of disease emergence; and predict future spread of the virus into new areas. Also, determining the phylogenetic relationships of Pteropus spp. across their range will help us to understand the co-evolutionary pattern of virus and host, and predict the emergence of newly discovered Nipah-like viruses. This study also has broad conservation implications. Fruit bats provide a wide range of ecosystem services in tropical forests, including pollination of wild and cultivated crops and seed dispersal; the ecological and economic impacts of their extirpation will be significant. P. vampyrus is in severe decline throughout much of its range due to hunting pressure, thus determining population connectivity and identifying population boundaries will be essential to guide the management of this threatened and ecologically important species.
Cross Cutting Themes:
Wildlife Trust, Consortium for Conservation Medicine
Bat Conservation International
CERC Seed Preliminary Implementation Grant 2003; EPA STAR 2004 Fellowship Program; NIH/NSF grant