Join the CU Museum of Natural History Oct. 24 for a free lecture, "Combating the Black Death: Mitigating Sylvatic Plague in the Western United States."
The word plague is used to describe a multitude of biological events with negative consequences for humans. Speaking strictly, however, there is one plague–-the zoonotic disease caused by Yersinia pestis, a flea-borne bacterium that infects mammal hosts, including humans. Plague is arguably best known for causing the Black Death in Europe, the greatest public health disaster in history. However, plague persists mostly in wildlife and can infect mammals of at least 73 genera and more than 200 species globally.
This presentation will summarize research on the ecology of plague in the Western U.S. Controlled experiments demonstrate that plague is causing chronic problems in populations of many mammals, including threatened and endangered species. Moreover, several lines of evidence suggest plague is disrupting ecosystem functions, for instance when the disease suppresses populations of keystone or foundation species. Case examples will be presented, and a proposal will be extended for a greater emphasis on the conservation ramifications of plague.
Tuesday, Oct. 24, 7 p.m.
CU Museum of Natural History