Ecologie spatiale des populations

Amandine Gamble

PhD student, DVM


Ecology of infectious agent circulation in colonial birds: 

inference using serological approaches


CEFE, CNRS - Université Montpellier 

Office 201B


amandine.gamble [at]

Supervisor: Thierry Boulinier


Research interests

Despite their increasingly recognized interest for public health and biodiversity conservation, investigations on the ecology and evolution of infectious diseases in wildlife have been hampered by the difficulty of collecting data allowing efficient inference of underlying processes. Serology (i.e., detection of antibodies in biological samples) is a useful tool to detect past exposure to specific infectious agents. Still, interpreting serological data is not straightforward. For instance, the prevalence of seropositive individuals in a population is driven by a combination of epidemiological (e.g., disease incidence) and demographic (e.g., population turnover) dynamics. In this context, the objective of this thesis is to show how processes underlying infectious agent circulation in wild populations can be inferred from serological data. First, I illustrate how cross-sectional studies focusing on a sentinel species at the wildlife-human interface can efficiently inform on patterns at a hierarchy of scales. Then, I compare the pros and cons of such cross-sectional approaches to longitudinal sampling designs involving marked individuals when attempting to quantify the dynamics of infectious agents and I propose a way to integrate those two approaches in future studies. Finally, using avian cholera epizootics in a threatened long-lived seabird on an isolated island as a case study, I illustrate the benefits of combining serology with other approaches. This work notably highlights the value of detailed long-term studies of host exposure to infectious agents in the wild, where ecological and evolutionary processes are likely critical drivers of disease dynamics and can have important implications for biodiversity conservation.

Specific questions

1/ Describing exposure patterns using serological data

Illustrations with the case of predating and scavenging species as sentinels

 2/ Quantifying epidemiological dynamics from serological data

Use of theoretical approaches to compare and integrate cross-sectionnal and longitudinal sampling designs

 3/ Combining approaches to strengthen inference

Illustration with the case of avian cholera epizootics on an isolated island under observational and experimental conditions


Thematics: eco-epidemiology, infectious disease, coloniality, movement ecology, immuno-ecology, data integration

Models: seabird, yellow-nosed albatross, brown skua, yellow-legged gull, black-legged kittiwake, Pasteurella multocida, avian cholera, Toxoplasma, Newcastle disease virus, Avian influenza, Borrelia, flaviviruses, ticks, Ixodes spp., Ornithodoros maritimus

Tools: immunology, serology, maternal antibodies, long-term monitoring, field experiment, telemetry, integrated modelling, capture-recapture

Study sites: Southern Indian Ocean (Amsterdam Island, Crozet Islands, Kerguelen Archipelago), Southern Atlantic Ocean (Falkland/Malvinas Islands), Barents Sea (Hornøya, Norway), Mediterranean Sea (mainly France and Spain)


  • Publications

Bourret V., Gamble A., Tornos J., Jaeger A., Delord K., Barbraud C., Tortosa P., Kada S., Thiebot J.-B., Thibault E., Gantelet H., Weimerskirch H., Garnier R. & Boulinier T. Vaccination protects endangered albatross chicks against avian cholera. Conservation Letters, in press. doi:10.1111/conl.12443

Boulinier T., Kada S., Ponchon A., Dupraz M., Dietrich M., Gamble A., Bourret V., Duriez O., Bazire R., Tornos J., Tveraa T., Chambert T., Garnier R., McCoy K.D., 2016. Migration, Prospecting, Dispersal? What host movement matters for infectious agent circulation? Integrative and Comparative Biology, 56, 330-342. doi:10.1093/icb/icw015

  • Submitted manuscripts

Gamble A., Garnier R., Chambert T. Gimenez O. & Boulinier T. “Next Generation Serology”: integrating cross-sectional and capture-recapture approaches to infer disease dynamics. In revision.

Gamble A., de Bruin E., Pearce-Duvet J.M.C., Hammouda A., Selmi S., Samraoui B., Gonzalez-Solis J., Koopmans M.P.G. & Boulinier T. Strong spatial homogeneity of immunological profiles against avian influenza virus subtypes suggests high connectivity among gull colonies at a regional scale. Under review.

Garnier R., Nabais C., Gamble A., Vidal V., Poisbleau M., Quillfeldt P., Connan M., Ryan P. G., McCoy K. D., Barbosa A., Gonzalez-Solis J. & Boulinier T. Large scale Borrelia seroprevalence assessment in Antarctic and sub-Antarctic seabirds. Under review.

Gamble A., Garnier R., Jaeger A., Thibault E., Gantelet H., Tortosa P., Bourret V., Thiebot J.-B., Delord K., Weimerskirch H., Tornos J., Barbraud C. & Boulinier T. Exposure of albatrosses to the avian cholera agent leads to a short-lived immune response: implications for disease surveillance and management. Submitted.

Gamble A., Bazire R., Delord K., Barbraud C., Jaeger A., Gantelet H., Thibault E., Lebarbenchon C., Lagadec E., Tortosa P., Weimerskirch H., Thiebot J.-B., Garnier R., Tornos J. & Boulinier T. Apex predators and scavengers as potential epidemiological bridges: the spread case of avian cholera among endangered seabirds. Submitted.

Jaeger A.*, Gamble A.*, Lagadec E.*, Lebarbenchon C., Bourret V., Tornos J., Barbraud C., Delord K., Weimerskirch H., Thiebot J.-B., Boulinier T. & Tortosa P. Exploring the dynamics of a bacterial pathogen infecting albatrosses on a remote island reveals recurrent epizootics responsible for massive mortality. (*: equal contribution). Submitted.

Boulinier T., Gamble A., Moulin N., Barbraud C., Delord K. & Weimerskirch H. Blinded by ticks: hyperinfestation by Ixodes kerguelenensis as a life threat to adult white-chinned petrels. Submitted.

  • Oral communications

Talk. Gamble et al. 2018 Circulation of avian cholera among endangered seabirds: the predating and scavenging brown skua as an epidemiological bridge on Amsterdam Island? Seabird Group Conference, 3-6 September, Liverpool, UK

Talk. Gamble et al. 2018 Diseases threatening polar seabirds: from immune-ecology to conservation. POLAR 2018, 19-23 June, Davos, Switzerland

PosterGamble et al. 2018 Combining approaches to understand avian cholera dynamics in seabirds: implications for conservation. EEID meeting, 29 May-1 June, Glasgow, UK

Seminar. Gamble 2018 Combining approaches to understand avian cholera dynamics in an albatross colony. Fish, Wildlife, and Conservation Biology Department, Colorado State University, 10 May, Fort Collins, USA

Seminar. Gamble 2018. Combining experimental and simulation-based approaches to manage avian cholera dynamics in albatross colonies. National Wildlife Research Center, United States Department of Agriculture, 7 May, Fort Collins, USA

Seminar. Gamble 2018. Ecology of infectious agent circulation in colonial birds: inference using serological approaches. Lloyd-Smith Lab, University of California Los Angeles, 24 April, Los Angeles, USA

Seminar. Gamble et al. 2018. Infectious diseases in albatrosses: from basic immuno-ecology to perspectives for conservation. 22 January, SAERI, Stanley, Falkland/Malvinas Islands

Poster. Gamble et al. 2017. Optimization of sampling designs in eco-epidemiologic studies based on the detection of antibodies in colonial vertebrates. Ecological Research Network & LTER-France joint conference, 2-4 October, Nantes, France

Talk. Gamble et al. 2017. Dynamics of antibody levels against avian cholera after natural exposure and vaccination in albatrosses: disease ecology implications. REID Immuno-écologie group meeting, 14-15 September, Montpellier, France

Talk. Gamble et al. 2017. "Next Generation Serology": integrating cross-sectional and capture-recapture data to infer disease dynamics from serological data. REID Immuno-écologie group meeting, 14-15 September, Montpellier, France

Invited talk. Gamble et al. 2017. Opportunistic feeders as sentinels for the circulation of infectious agents in spatial contexts. Waterbird Society annual meeting, 8-12 August, Reykjavik, Iceland

Poster. Gamble et al. 2017. Optimization of sampling designs in eco-epidemiologic studies based on the detection of antibodies in colonial vertebrates. EURING analytical meeting, 3-7 July, Barcelona, Spain

Talk. Gamble et al. 2017. Optimization of sampling designs in eco-epidemiological studies based on antibody detection in sentinel species: the case of large gulls. 4th Young Natural History scientists’ Meeting, 7-11 February, Paris, France

Talk. Gamble et al. 2016. Exposure of yellow-legged gulls to Toxoplasma gondii along the Western Mediterranean coasts: tales from a sentinel. Sfécologie, 24-28 September, Marseille, France

Talk. Gamble et al. 2016. Serological data as a tool for studying co-infections patterns: example of Borrelia burgdorferi sl and flaviviruses in a seabird colony. REID Tiques et Maladies à Tiques group meeting, 9-11 March, Sète, France

Poster. Gamble et al. 2015. Influence de l’état nutritionnel après un jeûne prolongé sur l’efficacité du voyage alimentaire chez le manchot royal. 2nd Colloque d’ÉcoPhysiologie Animale, 4-6 November, La Rochelle, France

  • Report

Boulinier T., Gamble A., Tornos J. & Garnier R., 2017. Circulation d’agents infectieux dans les populations de vertébrés coloniaux des terres australes : surveillance, compréhension et implications pour la gestion. IPEV 2016: Rapport d'activité, 52−61

  • Thesis

Gamble A., 2016. Influence de l’état nutritionnel après un jeûne prolongé sur l’efficacité du voyage alimentaire chez le manchot royal. Veterinary medicine thesis. Alfort, France