Research interests

  • Wildlife disease ecology
  • Neotropical bat communities
  • Microbial community ecology
  • Habitat fragmentation

 

 

 

Scientific projects

Viruses and other microbes are ubiquitous natural elements of all ecosystems. As changes to the environment may affect their host organisms this may ultimately also have consequences on diversity and abundance of the associated viruses and microorganisms. Consequently, for my PhD project, I am focusing on how anthropogenic landscape modifications influence bat diversity in the tropics, and how these changes may drive virus prevalence and microbial diversity and abundance. In this context, bats are increasingly being recognized as important natural reservoir hosts for a number of viral pathogens that can result in the emergence of diseases that potentially may affect also humans.  

My PhD project is part of a larger collaborative project investigating the biology of host organisms and the associated viruses, in tight cooperation between ecologists and virologists (DFG SPP 1596). The central hypothesis of our project focuses on the so-called “dilution effect”, examining the effects of habitat fragmentation and land use on diversity of rodent and bat communities and in consequence on the respective parasite/pathogen prevalence. Within this framework I focus on the bat part, relating local species diversity with the respective virus prevalence, and addressing animal health by assessing the diversity of the intestinal microbiome of common Neotropical frugivorous bats based on next generation sequencing of 16s rRNA of gut bacteria. For sampling bats I conducted a standardized mist netting approach over more than two years in different habitats around the Barro Colorado field station of the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute in Panama. The area hosts extremely diverse bat assemblages, with more than half of the species richness represented by the Neotropical Leaf-nosed bats (Phyllostomidae). Such assemblages often experience drastic changes in response to habitat alterations, resulting in the loss of some bat species highly specialized to the original habitats, while more adaptable species may persist and even benefit from modified environments.

Already during my diploma thesis I started learning about the impact of microbiome by studying the oral microbiome of frugivorous bats in health and disease. We were targeting the question “Why do frugivorous bats not suffer from dental caries?” I was interested whether bats show a special microbiome to a sugar rich nutrition. As dental caries is a consequence of a change in the microbial community and not of a single bacterial agent, studying the oral microbiome gives first insights into this interesting question.

Publications

Rose A, Brändel SD, Cvecko P, Engler S, Hiller T, Knörnschild M, Tschapka M (2017) New records of hypopigmentation in two neotropical phyllostomid bat species with different roosting habits (Uroderma bilobatum, Glossophaga soricina). MammaliaDOI 10.1515/mammalia-2016-0086  (online first)

Conference contributions

Brändel S., Corman V., Hiller T., Rasche A., Page R., Drosten C., Tschapka M. Host-specific traits as drivers of astrovirus infections in common Neotropical bats resilient to habitat alteration. Annual Conference of the Society for Tropical Ecology, 2016, Göttingen, Deutschland

Brändel S., Wagner I., Bengelsdorf F., Mack A., Diebolder R., Stegmann B.,Tschapka M., Haller B., Hibst R., Dürre P., Kalko E.K.V (2013) Bats without Bad Teeth – Low Percentage of Dental Caries in the Neotropical Frugivorous Bat Artibeus jamaicensis. International Bat Research Conference, 2013, San José, Costa Rica

Brändel S., Wagner I., Bengelsdorf F., Mack A., Diebolder R., Stegmann B.,Tschapka M., Haller B., Hibst R., Dürre P., Kalko E.K.V (2013) Bats without bad teeth – low percentage of dental caries in the Neotropical frugivorous bat A. jamaicensis. 50th Anniversary Meeting: Association for Tropical Biology and Conservation (ATBC) & Organization for Tropical Studies (OTS), 2013, San José, Costa Rica

Brändel S., Wagner I., Bengelsdorf F., Mack A., Diebolder R., Stegmann B., Seibold G.M., Schiel-Bengelsdorf B., Tschapka M., Haller B., Hibst R., Kalko E.K.V., and Dürre P. (2013) Sweet tooth without cavities – almost no dental caries in a neotropical frugivorous bat. Treffen der Fledermausforscher in Deutschland 2013, Rottenburg-Ergenzingen

Brändel S., Wagner I., Mack A., Diebolder R., Bengelsdorf F., Schiel-Bengelsdorf B., Stegmann B., Seibold G.M., Tschapka M., Haller B., Hibst R., Kalko E.K.V., and Dürre P. (2012) Sweet tooth with good teeth – low percentage of dental caries in a neotropical frugivorous bat. Annual Conference of the Society for Tropical Ecology 2012, Erlangen (MERIAN AWARD-Gewinner)

Brändel S., Bengelsdorf F., Wagner I., Mack A., Diebolder R., Stegmann B., Seibold G.M., Schiel-Bengelsdorf B., Tschapka M., Haller B., Hibst R., Kalko E.K.V., and Dürre P. (2012) Sweet toothed bats without cavities – almost no appearance of dental caries in the frugivorous bat Artibeus jamaicensis. VAAM-Jahrestagung 2012, Tübingen

Contact

  • Stefan Brändel

    Institute of Evolutionary Ecology
    and Conservation Genomics
    University of Ulm Helmholtzstr. 10/1
    89081 Ulm
    Germany
    Tel: +49 (0)731 50 22675
    Email: stefan.braendel () uni-ulm.de