Our friend Camille Lebarbenchon, from the University of Reunion Island, has now joined us on Bird Island for the fifth year in succession. He is undertaking ground-breaking research on pathogens carried by seabirds in the western Indian Ocean. On Bird Island this has involved mainly Sooty Terns, Brown Noddies and Lesser Noddies but he has also been working this year on Cousin and Cousine Islands, where he has included Bridled Terns and White Terns in his investigations. His studies also have involved Aride Island in Seychelles and Europa and Juan de Nova in the Mozambique Channel.
He is finding several kinds of pathogen in blood, saliva and faeces samples (none known to be dangerous for humans) and he hopes his work will reveal the mechanisms of spread of the pathogens among islands and between birds of different species.
He has been using geolocators to discover where the birds go on migration and this year, in addition to his sampling of breeding birds, he is using GPS loggers on Brown Noddies to investigate where they feed when breeding and how often the male and female change over during incubation.
Camille has already published one paper describing some aspects of the work:
Lebarbenchon, C,*, Jaeger, A., Feare, C.J., Bastien, M., Dietrich, M., Larose, C.S., Lagadec, E., Rocamora, G., Shah, N., Pascalis, H., Boulinier, T., Le Corre, M., Stallknecht, D.E., Dellagi, K. 2015. Influenza A virus in oceanic islands: host and viral diversity in seabirds in the Western Indian Ocean. PLoS Pathogens 11(5): e1004925 http://dx.doi.org/10.1371/journal.ppat.1004925