The effect of group size and composition on the dynamics of group- and individual-level symbiont and pathogen communities in a long-term wild chimpanzee cohort

Dr. Fabian Leendertz, Berlin
Dr. Roman Wittig, Leipzig

PhD student: Markus Ulrich


Examining how wild primates are influenced by microorganisms, no matter if those associated with benefits (microbiome, phageome) or costs (parasitome, virome), is challenging since the mild effects can only be studied when long term data, variability in community size and composition and according longitudinally collected samples are available. Here we propose to take advantage of a unique set of behavioral data and samples collected from wild Western chimpanzees in the Taï forest over the last 16 years to address the eco-evolutionary dynamics/interplay of microbe communities and chimpanzee social structures. We will in particular focus on the possible impact of group size variation, thereby providing very nice complementary information to the across–species comparison performed in the SOHAPI II project #8 (Calvignac-Spencer, Daniel and Roos). In addition, we will also leverage a well-characterized set of outbreaks that swept this community to characterize prior and subsequent microbe community composition variation. Finally, we will also be in the position to assess individual trajectories in the context of group-level microbe community composition and social structure. For all questions, we will simultaneously characterize the diversity of pathogens/parasites and symbionts.


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