Presently I hold an Academy Research Fellowship at the University of Helsinki. My project concentrates on analysing the role of ecological processes in affecting the interaction between environmental opportunistic pathogens (by these I mean organisms that live freely in the environment, but are able to infect host individuals upon contact) and their hosts. This work combines both theoretical analysis and microcosm experiments.

Previously, I worked as a post-doctoral fellow in a project lead by prof. Ilkka Hanski (
✝ 2016). This project concentrates on highlighting the role of the living environment on the development of atopic sensitisation in children. This work also includes analysis of the composition human microbiota and how this might relate to the regulation of the immune function. After prof. Hanski passed away, I have been in charge of this project.

After finnishing my PhD thesis and doing a short postdoc with Peter Abrams in Toronto, I started a project (postdoctoral research project, funded by the Academy of Finland) dealing with integrating spatial and temporal environmental variation in models of ecological communities. While my main research involved analysing stochastic community models, I also collaborated in research projects dealing with ecotoxicological consequences of heavy metals on chironomid communites and their bat predators, as well as testing and developing numerical methods for empirical community ecology.

My research interests include:

Community ecology
Interspecific interactions
Environmental stochasticity
– Disease ecology
– N
umerical ecology.

Past activities

2013–2015 Postdoctoral fellow in the Metapopulation Researcg Group with prof. Ilkka Hanski.

2011–2013 Postdoctoral research project funded by the Academy of Finland, considering the role of spatio-temporal environmental variation on the dynamics of metacommunities.

In 2010 I worked as a postdoctoral fellow at the university of Turku, Finland, in the project of prof. Kai Norrdahl dealing with the predictability of food web composition.

In 2009–2010 I worked at the University of Toronto, under the supervision of professors Peter Abrams & Brian Shuter, also collaborating with prof. Kevin McCann (U of Guelph). This work in Toronto dealt with food web models and the influence of climate change on spatially coupled food chains.

I did my PhD in the University of Helsinki, working in the Integrative Ecology Group, under the supervision of profs. Esa Ranta (✝ 2008) and Veijo Kaitala, and Dr. Mike Fowler. My thesis concentrated around ecological communities and the impact of environmental stochasticity on biological systems in general.

Monday, 25 September 2017

Dispersal patterns in metacommunities critically affect host-pathogen dynamics

Pathogen consumers alter spatial disease dynamics of in unexpected ways

The epidemiological dynamics of potentially free-living pathogens are often studied with respect to a specific pathogen species (e.g., cholera) and most studies concentrate only on host-pathogen interactions. Here we show that metacommunity-level interactions can alter conventional spatial disease dynamics. We introduce a pathogen eating consumer species and investigate a deterministic epidemiological model of two habitat patches, where both patches can be occupied by hosts, pathogens, and consumers of free-living pathogens. An isolated habitat patch shows periodic disease outbreaks in the host population, arising from cyclic consumer-pathogen dynamics. On the other hand, consumer dispersal between the patches generate asymmetric disease prevalence, such that the host population in one patch stays disease-free, while disease outbreaks occur in the other patch. Such asymmetry can also arise with host dispersal, where infected hosts carry pathogens to the other patch. This indirect movement of pathogens causes also a counter-intuitive effect: decreasing morbidity in a focal patch under increasing pathogen immigration. Our results underline that community-level interactions influence disease dynamics and consistent spatial asymmetry can arise also in spatially homogeneous systems. For more details, see Mononen & Ruokolainen 2017.

No comments:

Post a Comment