I am currently working as a postdoctoral researcher in the project called HOME; Small mammals and humans: how their movements, behavior and interactions affect emergence and transmission of zoonotic diseases in changing environments. The project is lead by assistant professor Frauke Ecke.
I am teaching in the course Applied Population Ecology (Life history trade-offs)
In the HOME project our aim is to understand the dynamics between small mammals and humans, and how their movements, behavior and interactions affect emergence and transmission of the Puumala hantavirus. Puumala virus (PUUV) causes Nephropathia epidemica (NE, Sw: sorkfeber) in humans and is a large public health issue, causing individual suffering for patients and considerable costs for society, especially in Fennoscandia where the prevalence of the virus is high. Bank vole is the host and vector species of Puumala hantavirus (PUUV) and the virus is shed via excrement (feces, urine, saliva). Humans are infected through inhalation of dust contaminated by vole feces and urine. Exposure to the virus often occurs while people are eg. cleaning their summer cottages after winter, or making firewood in the wood shed where bank voles have access.
In my current experiment, “Role of indoor movement and behavior of voles and humans in winter for NE infection risk” I am assessing the role of indoor movement and behavior of voles and humans in winter for NE infection risk. My hypothesis is that during periods with unstable winter conditions, i.e. with thin snow cover, ice-bark formation and/or rainy conditions, bank voles show higher activity and abundance in human dwellings compared to periods with stable (opposite) winter conditions. Consequently, humans are exposed to increased NE infection risk during periods with unstable winter conditions. The decreasing winter conditions due to climate change could thus lead to permanently increased NE cases in the future.
I completed my PhD on ecology and evolutionary biology in February 2015 in the University of Jyväskylä, Finland. In my PhD thesis I studied the overwintering strategies of bank voles (Myodes glareolus) and how the climate change could affect their overwintering survival, physiology and behavior.
Please see https://www.researchgate.net/profile/Saana_Sipari/research