Ecologie spatiale des populations

Amandine Gamble



Ecology of infectious agent circulation in colonial birds: 

inference using serological approaches


amandine.gamble [at]

Last update: 2019-02

Oct. 2015 - Sep. 2018 - PhD student at CEFE - Supervisor: Thierry Boulinier
Oct. 2018 - Feb. 2019 - Postdoctoral research assistant in Thierry Boulinier's team at CEFE
Then: Postdoctoral research assistant at Lloyd-Smith Lab, UCLA


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

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. 2019. Exposure of albatrosses to the avian cholera agent leads to a short-lived immune response: implications for disease surveillance and management. Oecologia, in press. doi:10.1007/s00442-019-04369-1

[Data & codes]


Gamble A., Ramos R., Parra-Torres Y., Mercier A., Galal L., Pearce-Duvet J.M.C., Villena I., Montalvo T., Gonzalez-Solis J., Hammouda A., Oro D., Selmi S. & Boulinier T.  2019. Exposure of yellow-legged gulls to Toxoplasma gondii along the Western Mediterranean coasts: tales from a sentinel. International Journal for Parasitology: Parasites and Wildlife, in press. doi:10.1016/j.ijppaw.2019.01.002

[Data & codes]


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. 2018. Vaccination protects endangered albatross chicks against avian cholera. Conservation Letters, 11, e12443. 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. In revision


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). In revision


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. 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., 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

  • Oral communications

Video seminar. Gamble 2018. Ecology of infectious agent circulation in colonial birds: inference using serological approaches. Mordecai Lab, Stanford University, 30 October, Sanford, USA


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

  • Outreach

Public talkGamble A. & Boulinier T. 2019. Infectious diseases in seabirds: from basic eco-immunology to conservation. 4 February, Falkland Islands Chamber of Commerce, Stanley, Falkland/Malvinas Islands


Newspaper. Gamble A., 2018. Investigating the cause of seabird deaths on New Island. Penguin News, 10 August, 9

  • Theses

Gamble A., 2018. Ecology of infectious agent circulation in seabirds: inference using serological approaches. PhD thesis. Université de Montpellier, France


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. Ecole Nationale Vétérinare d'Alfort - Université de Créteil, France