Currently little is known about the factors determining individual heterogeneity in parasite infections in unmanaged wild mammal populations, including the gastrointestinal community of most wildlife species. In particular, the eukaryotic proportion of the biome, the eukaryome, remains largely unknown, and little is known about the fitness consequences which parasite infections impose on their hosts. In my research I primarily focus on individually known spotted hyenas in three large clans in the Serengeti NP. I aim to investigate determinants of gastrointestinal parasite infections of this wild social mammal and to assess the fitness consequences of infection. I hypothesise that individual variation of parasite infections is determined by 1) life-history traits; 2) social, ecological and abiotic environmental factors; 3) host immune-competence and 4) gastrointestinal community.
Stipend by the Research Training Group GRK2046 – Parasite infections: From experimental models to natural systems.