Texas State University-San Marcos
Department of Biological Science
My research interests cover several interrelated areas that merge wildlife management, community ecology, mammalogy, conservation biology, ecology of emergent infectious diseases, as well as the ecology and management of invasive species. Within this last area I am especially interested in the potential role that invasive species can have for the spread and maintenance of zoonotic diseases. Feral hogs (Sus scrofa) are a big concern in Texas for the damage they do to agriculture and natural habitats but little is known about their role to spread and maintain zoonotic diseases. Research is needed in this area.
Besides my interest for invasive species in Texas my research is also addressing invasive species at other places. My lab is currently doing a project in Puerto Rico to ascertain the potential role of the invasive small asian mongoose (Herpestes auropunctatus) to spread and maintain zoonotic diseases that can affect cattle and humans in this island. This invasive mammal has been classified among the “100 world worst invasive species” by the Invasive Species Specialists Group from the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN). So, besides the research questions for its role as a disease reservoir, graduate students at my lab are gathering ecological data (home range through telemetry work, food habits, etc.) that can aid to the management of this species at the islands it has been introduced.
Besides current projects I am also interested into the development of an early warning system for new invasive species. Although they have not been documented in Texas two other potential invasive species might arrive and establish in Texas. One of them is a pathogen (fungus Pseudogymnoascus destructans, which causes the White Nose Syndrome in bats) and the other one is a mammal (Vampire bat, Desmodus rotundus). Both of these invasive species have potentially serious economic impacts and early detection of their presence in the state could prevent a widespread establishment of these species.