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Laboratory of Holly Ernest

Disease Ecology Course

Disease Ecology Course

Course offered – Spring 2020
Disease Ecology




ENR/Haub/Ecology students – cross listed as ENR 4240 (Undergrads; CRN TBA);
ENR 5240 (Grad Students; CRN TBA)

Tuesdays and Thursdays 2:45-4pm

All majors welcome
Join us for an exciting course!

Disease Ecology is the study of underlying principles that influence the spatio-temporal patterns of diseases. This discipline emphasizes processes of population, ecological community, and ecosystem interactions and answers questions involving:

• Why do the patterns of disease occur as they do?
• What variables are important? These involve environment, the diseased populations (humans, wildlife, livestock, pets, plants, microbes), and the pathogen (disease-causing agent).
• How can we use the information to study past events (even ancient disease), predict future disease transmission and dynamics, and thus provide actions to reduce negative impacts of disease?

This course will give you new knowledge, critical thinking skills, and tools for applying the interdisciplinary science of Disease Ecology in:

  • How interactions among species, ecosystems, human systems, and abiotic components of the environment affect patterns and processes of disease,
  • Considerations for co-evolution of hosts and pathogens, conservation biology, models used to understand disease dynamics,
  • Approaches to manage and control disease in animals, plants, and humans

Study of emerging infectious diseases and diseases from environmental contaminants, are increasingly a key public health and natural population conservation tool. Examples in the news: Ebola, SARS, MERS, Nipah virus, oil spills, Chytrid fungus in amphibians, Bark Beetle in pine trees and more!

Great course for students interested in:

  • Wildlife biology, plant sciences, public health fields, veterinary sciences, landscape ecology, conservation ecology, population ecology, wildlife health, landscape genetics, animal sciences, just to name a few…
  • Learning how disease is important for a career in wildlife and natural resource agencies, public health, human medicine, agriculture, nonprofit organizations, academic institutions, and others.

Course Prerequisites:
LIFE 2022 or 2023 and STAT 2050 or 2070, or permission of instructor (email Dr. Ernest with courses you have taken that might cover these).

Required texts:
will be available free/online via UW library or option to buy at campus store


Dr. Holly Ernest, a wildlife biologist (PhD in Ecology with emphasis on wildlife disease ecology and population genetics) and conservation veterinarian (DVM and MS) who uses genomic tools for research and education in population health, disease ecology, and genomics for wildlife conservation.

Dr. Jennifer Malmberg is a veterinary pathologist (DVM and Diplomate of the American College of Veterinary Pathologists) and wildlife disease research scientist (PhD in Virology with an emphasis on pathogen evolution in wildlife populations) who combines diagnostic pathology with molecular techniques to promote wildlife health and conservation.