Our project currently has four main components:
- Ecological fieldwork to explore the relationship between the distribution of marbled crayfish and the snails which transmit schistosomiasis.
- Predation experiments in the laboratory to expand our understanding of the interactions between marbled crayfish and the snail hosts of schistosomiasis. We are running complimentary experiments at the University of Antananarivo and at the University of Washington exploring the rate at which the crayfish consume the snails under a variety of conditions.
- Developing expertise for molecular diagnostics of Schistosoma species in Madagascar (they can be cryptic and difficult to identify under the microscope). We are also developing protocols for using environmental DNA (eDNA) to detect the marbled crayfish, snails which transmit schistosomiasis, and the Schistosoma parasites in water samples taken from the field.
- Social research to better understand the consumption of marbled crayfish by people and the contribution this makes to diets, especially of children.
We are planning further research on the impacts of marbled crayfish on dimensions of human and ecosystem health (subject to funding applications)
- The ecological impacts of the marbled crayfish on Madagascar’s highly threatened freshwater ecosystems.
- Quantifying the impact of marbled crayfish predation of snails on transmission of schistosomiasis to humans.
- The impacts of marbled crayfish on fisheries and rice agriculture.