In the wake of a pandemic that has ties to the wildlife trade, a research team from five universities recently received a $2.75 million grant to study how biological, social, and economic factors influence the pathogen spread through animal trade networks.
The project is being funded by the Ecology and Evolution of Infectious Diseases Program, a joint program of the National Science Foundation, National Institutes of Health, and the U.S. Department of Agriculture.
The goal of the study is to identify how socio-economic decisions and pathogen dynamics impact each other in the wildlife trade network, focusing on the amphibian pet trade. The study aims to inform policies that support biodiversity conservation and prevent future pandemics.
“The global wildlife trade is a major pathway for the spread of diseases that affect both humans and wildlife”, said Jonah Piovia‑Scott, associate professor at Washington State University Vancouver. “Our research focuses on the amphibian pet trade, but we expect it to yield insights about the biological and socioeconomic factors that influence the movement of pathogens through other kinds of wildlife trade networks.”
Piovia‑Scott is a co‑principal investigator from WSU on the project along with Jesse Brunner, associate professor at WSU Pullman. Both are from WSU’s School of Biological Sciences.
The evolution, emergence, and spread of novel pathogens has been widely discussed even before the first case of COVID‑19 was reported in 2019. Many infectious disease outbreaks, like that of monkeypox, chronic wasting disease, and COVID‑19, have been linked to the wildlife trade.