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Applied ecoimmunology: using immunological tools to improve conservation efforts in a changing world

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Ohmer, MEB, Costantini, D, Czirjak, GA, Downs, CJ, Ferguson, LV, Flies, A ORCID: 0000-0002-4550-1859, Franklin, CE, Kayigwe, AN, Knutie, S, Richards-Zawacki, CL and Cramp, RL 2021 , 'Applied ecoimmunology: using immunological tools to improve conservation efforts in a changing world' , Conservation Physiology, vol. 9, no. 1 , pp. 1-16 , doi: 10.1093/conphys/coab074.

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Abstract

Ecoimmunology is a rapidly developing field that explores how the environment shapes immune function, which in turninfluences host–parasite relationships and disease outcomes. Host immune defence is a key fitness determinant because itunderlies the capacity of animals to resist or tolerate potential infections. Importantly, immune function can be suppressed,depressed, reconfigured or stimulated by exposure to rapidly changing environmental drivers like temperature, pollutantsand food availability. Thus, hosts may experience trade-offs resulting from altered investment in immune function underenvironmental stressors. As such, approaches in ecoimmunology can provide powerful tools to assist in the conservationof wildlife. Here, we provide case studies that explore the diverse ways that ecoimmunology can inform and advanceconservation efforts, from understanding how Galapagos finches will fare with introduced parasites, to using methods fromhuman oncology to design vaccines against a transmissible cancer in Tasmanian devils. In addition, we discuss the future ofecoimmunology and present 10 questions that can help guide this emerging field to better inform conservation decisions andbiodiversity protection. From better linking changes in immune function to disease outcomes under different environmentalconditions, to understanding how individual variation contributes to disease dynamics in wild populations, there is immensepotential for ecoimmunology to inform the conservation of imperilled hosts in the face of new and re-emerging pathogens,in addition to improving the detection and management of emerging potential zoonoses.

Item Type: Article
Authors/Creators:Ohmer, MEB and Costantini, D and Czirjak, GA and Downs, CJ and Ferguson, LV and Flies, A and Franklin, CE and Kayigwe, AN and Knutie, S and Richards-Zawacki, CL and Cramp, RL
Keywords: eco-immunology. conservation, physiology, immunology, synthesis
Journal or Publication Title: Conservation Physiology
Publisher: Oxford University Press
ISSN: 2051-1434
DOI / ID Number: 10.1093/conphys/coab074
Copyright Information:

Copyright 2021 the Authors. Licensed under Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International (CC BY 4.0) https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/

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