Jason Lee Anders, a Postdoc researcher from CEES, Oslo will be giving a seminar entitled “Effects of dietary shift and intestinal helminths on the gut microbiota of two sympatric rodents in urban environments“. Cities are among the most extreme forms of anthropogenic ecosystem modification and urbanization processes that exert profound effects on animal populations through multiple ecological pathways. Understanding how urbanization alters the gut microbiome of wildlife is essential as it plays a pivotal role in health and development. The focus of this project is to understand how the gut microbiota of two sympatric species of rodents, the omnivorous large Japanese field mouse (Apodemus speciosus) and the relatively more herbivorous grey red-backed vole (Myodes rufocanus), is altered within urban ecosystems and what factors may be affecting those changes. Both species exhibited an expanded dietary niche width within the urban areas potentially attributable to novel anthropogenic foods and altered resource availability. We detected a dietary shift in which urban A. speciosus consumed more terrestrial animal protein and M. rufocanus more plant leaves and stems. These changes in resource use may be associated with an altered gut microbial community structure such as an increased abundance of the presumably probiotic Lactobacillus in the small intestine of urban A. speciosus. While urbanization negatively impacted several intestinal helminth species (i.e. lower prevalence and abundance), the cosmopolitan nematode Heterakis spumosa may be important for maintaining high gut microbial alpha diversity. Furthermore, it may promote lower relative abundance of the potentially pathogenic Helicobacter in the lower gastrointestinal tract of urban M. rufocanus. Together, these results suggest that even taxonomically similar species may exhibit divergent responses to urbanization with consequences for the gut microbiota and broader ecological interactions.

Jason’s seminar will be streamed live on zoom through https://kau-se.zoom.us/my/kaubiology on Tuesday 24 May at 13.15 CEST.