Touseef Ahmed

 DVM | MPH | PhD Scholar

My research aims to advance knowledge on environmental extremes and land use implications for zoonotic disease emergence. In particular, the bat borne zoonotic pathogen “infect–shed–spill–spread” cascade to enable the protection of landscape immunity—the ecological conditions that reduce the risk of pathogen spillover from reservoir hosts—as a conservation and biosecurity priority. I am trying to understand the impact of extreme heat events on Indian flying foxes (Pteropus medius) in Pakistan. I will determine temperature thresholds that precipitate heat stress in Pteropus medius at roost level and explore how it impact the landscape immunity.

Environmental and ecological changes impact host immunology and relate to viral spillover. Environmental stressors such as extreme heat events, food shortages and other external stressors may interact with other host internal stressors such as reproduction, and result in increased viral shedding and the chance of spillovers in flying foxes. I hope to develop heat stress and habitat suitability models and conduct serological surveillance that will help us understand these changes in the immune system and host behavior that may mediate the observed relationship between environmental and ecological stressors with spillover.

My research interests lie at the nexus of conservation biology, disease ecology, disturbance ecology and wildlife-human interactions. My research focuses on the role of human disturbance in shaping mammalian communities, ranging from assemblage composition and population demographics to individual health. I have established Batcon Pakistan, a nonprofit platform, dedicated for the enduring protection of wildlife and their habitats and creating a world in which wildlife and humans successfully coexist through effective engagement. During the next five years Batcon Pakistan will work in Pakistan at multiple scales with local, regional, national, and multinational public and private partners to respond rapidly and effectively to the bat conservation crises. We aim to prevent the extinction and extirpation of threatened bats as well as adopt a proactive approach for curbing bat born zoonotic disease spillover events through effective engagement at each level.

The mission of BatconPakistan.Org is to conserve wildlife and their ecosystems through research and community engagement.