Some of our past projects

1. Injection of specific antibodies in eggs and effect on fitness

Heli Siitari, Vincent Staszewski, Marjo Pihlaja

One interesting and innovative way to investigate the effect of maternal antibodies on fitness could be to experimentally manipulate the amount of antibodies transferred to the chick via the injection of antibodies in the egg yolk, with the prediction that it will confer to the chick a passive protection. Injection in egg yolk has already been used in the team and other collaborators to investigate the impact of yolk hormones on chicks. Antibodies to be injected will be obtained via the concentration and purification of antibodies from egg yolk obtained from females exposed to an antigen (in fact the production of specific egg yolk antibodies is increasingly used in research and medecine). Injection of specific antibodies will allow us to investigate the consequences of maternal antibodies on chick growth, survival and response to re-exposition to the antigen.

2. Eco-epidemiology and maternal effects

Heli Siitari, Vincent Stazewski

Much interest has focused recently on the relationships between diseases, biodiversity and wildlife, and in particular on the eco-epidemiology of zoonoses circulating in wild birds (Influenza, West Nile Virus, Lyme Borreliosis). However, the role of maternal antibodies in the dynamics of these systems is still little considered despite their potential importance, especially for vector-borne diseases for which exposure of the hosts can occur mostly during the breeding season (e.g., Lyme disease agent B. burgdorferi vectored by Ixodid ticks or Sindbis virus vectored by ornithophilic mosquitoes). It is thus important to determine what factors affect the transfer of these specific maternal antibodies in natural situations and to explore the effect of these antibodies on offspring fitness.

3. Drivers of large-scale population and community dynamics in boreal forest ecosystems under global change

Heli Siitari, Gilbert Ludwig

An understanding of how populations, communities and ecosystems will respond to ever increasing environmental and climatic alterations is one of the major challenges in 21st century ecology. Such an understanding is increasingly dependent upon our ability to conceptually integrate population & community ecological expertise with the one of evolutionary ecology. We study patterns and processes underlying the evolution and dynamics of wild populations and communities in boreal forest ecosystems, especially in the perspective of environmental and climatic change, at large spatial and temporal scales. Populations of forest grouse, community level effects of recovering large carnivores as well as the context dependence of population processes, such as trophic interactions, are currently our focus.