eCite Digital Repository

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


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, Applied ecoimmunology: using immunological tools to improve conservation efforts in a changing world, Conservation Physiology, 9, (1) pp. 1-16. ISSN 2051-1434 (2021) [Refereed Article]


Copyright Statement

Copyright 2021 the Authors. Licensed under Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International (CC BY 4.0)

DOI: doi:10.1093/conphys/coab074


Ecoimmunology is a rapidly developing field that explores how the environment shapes immune function, which in turn influences host–parasite relationships and disease outcomes. Host immune defence is a key fitness determinant because it underlies 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, pollutants and food availability. Thus, hosts may experience trade-offs resulting from altered investment in immune function under environmental stressors. As such, approaches in ecoimmunology can provide powerful tools to assist in the conservation of wildlife. Here, we provide case studies that explore the diverse ways that ecoimmunology can inform and advance conservation efforts, from understanding how Galapagos finches will fare with introduced parasites, to using methods from human oncology to design vaccines against a transmissible cancer in Tasmanian devils. In addition, we discuss the future of ecoimmunology and present 10 questions that can help guide this emerging field to better inform conservation decisions and biodiversity protection. From better linking changes in immune function to disease outcomes under different environmental conditions, to understanding how individual variation contributes to disease dynamics in wild populations, there is immense potential 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 Details

Item Type:Refereed Article
Keywords:eco-immunology. conservation, physiology, immunology, synthesis
Research Division:Biological Sciences
Research Group:Zoology
Research Field:Animal immunology
Objective Division:Expanding Knowledge
Objective Group:Expanding knowledge
Objective Field:Expanding knowledge in the biological sciences
UTAS Author:Flies, A (Dr Andy Flies)
UTAS Author:Kayigwe, AN (Mr Ahab Kayigwe)
ID Code:147020
Year Published:2021
Funding Support:Australian Research Council (DE180100484)
Web of Science® Times Cited:2
Deposited By:Menzies Institute for Medical Research
Deposited On:2021-10-08
Last Modified:2021-11-02
Downloads:6 View Download Statistics

Repository Staff Only: item control page