Research

Research Areas

Animal ecology and behavior, wildlife disease ecology

We study animal ecology and behavior with an interest in how variation within and among species alters rates of disease transmission. Ongoing research in Etosha National Park, Namibia, focuses on anthrax and on gastrointestinal parasites.

Representative publications:

  • Turner, W. C., Kausrud, K. L., Beyer, W., Easterday, W. R., Barandongo, Z. R., Blaschke, E., Cloete, C. C., Lazak, J., Van Ert, M. N., Ganz, H. H., Turnbull, P. C. B., Stenseth, N. C. and Getz, W. M. 2016. Lethal exposure: An integrated approach to pathogen transmission via environmental reservoirs. Scientific Reports, 6, Article number: 27311 Open Access
  • Havarua, Z., W.C. Turner, J.K.E. Mfune. 2014. Seasonal variation in foraging behavior of plains zebras (Equus quagga) may alter contact with the anthrax bacterium (Bacillus anthracis). Canadian Journal of Zoology, 92: 331-337.
  • Turner, W.C., K.L. Kausrud, Y.S. Krishnappa, J.P.G.M. Cromsigt, H.H. Ganz, I. Mapaure, C.C. Cloete, Z. Havarua, M. Küsters, W.M. Getz, N.C. Stenseth. 2014. Fatal attraction: vegetation responses to nutrient inputs attract herbivores to infectious anthrax carcass sites. Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences., 281: 20141785.
  • Turner, W.C., P. Imologhome, Z. Havarua, G.P. Kaaya, J.K.E. Mfune, I.D.T. Mpofu & W.M. Getz. 2013. Soil ingestion, nutrition and the seasonality of anthrax in herbivores of Etosha National Park, Ecosphere, 4(1):13.
  • Turner, W.C., W.D. Versfeld, J.W. Kilian & W.M. Getz.  2012.  Synergistic effects of seasonal rainfall, parasites and demography on fluctuations in springbok body condition. Journal of Animal Ecology, 81: 58-69.
  • Thurber, M., C.E. O’Connell-Rodwell, W.C. Turner, K. Nambandi, C. Kinzley, T. Rodwell, C.T. Faulkner, S.A. Felt, D.M. Bouley. 2011. Effects of rainfall, host demography and musth on strongyle fecal egg counts in African elephants (Loxodonta africana) in Namibia, Journal of Wildlife Diseases 47(1):172-181
  • Turner, W.C., A.E. Jolles, & N. Owen-Smith. 2005. Alternating sexual segregation during the mating season by male African buffalo (Syncerus caffer), Journal of Zoology, London 267:291-299.

Host-parasite interactions

Our research examines host-parasite interactions from a variety of perspectives, including seasonality and climate effects on infections, disease susceptibility, multi-parasite infections, eco-immunology and immunogenetics, host-parasite relationships and parasite taxonomy.

Representative publications:

  • Turner W.C., M. Küsters, W. Versfeld & I. Horak. In press. Ixodid tick diversity on wild mammals, birds, and reptiles in and around Etosha National Park, Namibia. African Journal of Ecology
  • Turner, W.C., B.L. Penzhorn and W.M. Getz. 2016. Description of 3 new species of Eimeria (Apicomplexa: Eimeriidae) from springbok (Antidorcas marsupialis) in Namibia. Comparative Parasitology, 83(2): 202-211.
  • Cizauskas, C.A., W.C. Turner, N.I. Pitts, W.M. Getz. 2015. Seasonal patterns of hormones, macroparasites and microparasites in wild African ungulates: the interplay between stress, reproduction and disease. PLoS ONE, 10(4): e0120800 Open Access
  • Cizauskas, C. A., W.C. Turner, B. Wagner, M. Küsters, R.E. Vance, W.M. Getz. 2014. Gastrointestinal helminths may affect host susceptibility to anthrax through seasonal immune trade-offs. BMC Ecology, 14:27 Open Access
  • Kamath, P.L., W.C. Turner, M. Küsters, & W.M. Getz. 2014. Parasite-mediated selection drives an immunogenetic trade-off in plains zebra (Equus quagga). Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences, 281: 20140077.

  • Turner, W.C., W.D. Versfeld, J.W. Kilian & W.M. Getz.  2012.  Synergistic effects of seasonal rainfall, parasites and demography on fluctuations in springbok body condition. Journal of Animal Ecology, 81: 58-69.
  • Thurber, M., C.E. O’Connell-Rodwell, W.C. Turner, K. Nambandi, C. Kinzley, T. Rodwell, C.T. Faulkner, S.A. Felt, D.M. Bouley. 2011. Effects of rainfall, host demography and musth on strongyle fecal egg counts in African elephants (Loxodonta africana) in Namibia, Journal of Wildlife Diseases 47(1):172-181
  • Turner, W.C. & W.M. Getz. 2010. Seasonal and demographic factors influencing gastrointestinal parasitism in ungulates of Etosha National Park, Journal of Wildlife Diseases 46(4):1108-1119.
  • Jolles, A.E., V.O. Ezenwa, R.S. Etienne, W.C. Turner, & H. Olff. 2008. Interactions between macroparasites and microparasites drive patterns of infection in free-ranging African buffalo, Ecology 89(8):2239-2250.

Pathogen ecology and evolution

With studies focused on Bacillus anthracis in Etosha National Park, Namibia, we have examined pathogen genetic diversity, and biotic and abiotic factors contributing to pathogen persistence in the environment. We aim to conduct new research in this subject area, focused on anthrax transmission and the evolution of pathogen virulence and environmental persistence.

Representative publications:

  • Valseth, K., C.L. Nesbø, W.R. Easterday, W.C. Turner, J.S. Olsen, N.C. Stenseth, T.H.A. Haverkamp. 2016. Draft genome sequences of two Bacillus anthracis strains from Etosha National Park, Namibia. Genome Announcements4(4):e00861-16. Open Access
  • Turner, W. C., Kausrud, K. L., Beyer, W., Easterday, W. R., Barandongo, Z. R., Blaschke, E., Cloete, C. C., Lazak, J., Van Ert, M. N., Ganz, H. H., Turnbull, P. C. B., Stenseth, N. C. and Getz, W. M. 2016. Lethal exposure: An integrated approach to pathogen transmission via environmental reservoirs. Scientific Reports, 6, Article number: 27311 Open Access
  • Ganz, H.H., W.C. Turner, E.L. Brodie, M. Küsters, Y. Shi, H. Sibanda, T. Torok and W.M. Getz. 2014. Interactions between Bacillus anthracis and plants may promote anthrax transmission. PLoS Neglected Tropical Diseases, 8(6): e2903. Open Access

  • Beyer, W., S. Bellan, G. Eberle, H.H. Ganz, W.M. Getz, R. Haumacher, K.A. Hilss, W. Kilian, J. Lazak, W.C. Turner, P.C.B. Turnbull. 2012. Distribution and molecular evolution of Bacillus anthracis genotypes in Namibia, PLoS Neglected Tropical Diseases, 6(3): e1534.
  • Research methods

    We test research methodologies and develop tools for data extraction and analysis.

    Representative publications:

  • Krishnappa, Y.S. & W.C. Turner. 2014. Software for minimalistic data management in large camera trap studies. Ecological Informatics, 24:11-16.

  • Lyons, A., W.C. Turner, W.M. Getz. 2013. Home range plus: A space-time characterization of movement over real landscapes, Movement Ecology, 1:2.
  • Turner, W.C., C.A. Cizauskas, & W.M. Getz. 2010. Variation in fecal water content may bias quantitative estimates of parasite intensity in wild African herbivores, Journal of Helminthology 84:99-105.
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