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Claire Risley - Top 30 Publications

Database of host-pathogen and related species interactions, and their global distribution.

Interactions between species, particularly where one is likely to be a pathogen of the other, as well as the geographical distribution of species, have been systematically extracted from various web-based, free-access sources, and assembled with the accompanying evidence into a single database. The database attempts to answer questions such as what are all the pathogens of a host, and what are all the hosts of a pathogen, what are all the countries where a pathogen was found, and what are all the pathogens found in a country. Two datasets were extracted from the database, focussing on species interactions and species distribution, based on evidence published between 1950-2012. The quality of their evidence was checked and verified against well-known, alternative, datasets of pathogens infecting humans, domestic animals and wild mammals. The presented datasets provide a valuable resource for researchers of infectious diseases of humans and animals, including zoonoses.

Could brown bears (Ursus arctos) have survived in Ireland during the Last Glacial Maximum?

Brown bears are recorded from Ireland during both the Late Pleistocene and early-mid Holocene. Although most of the Irish landmass was covered by an ice sheet during the Last Glacial Maximum (LGM), Irish brown bears are known to have hybridized with polar bears during the Late Pleistocene, and it is suggested that the Irish brown bear population did not become extinct but instead persisted in situ through the LGM in a southwestern ice-free refugium. We use historical population modelling to demonstrate that brown bears are highly unlikely to have survived through the LGM in Ireland under any combination of life-history parameters shown by living bear populations, but instead would have rapidly become extinct following advance of the British-Irish ice sheet, and probably recolonized Ireland during the end-Pleistocene Woodgrange Interstadial from a closely related nearby source population. The time available for brown bear-polar bear hybridization was therefore restricted to narrow periods at the beginning or end of the LGM. Brown bears would have been extremely vulnerable to extinction in Quaternary habitat refugia and required areas substantially larger than southwestern Ireland to survive adverse glacial conditions.

Economic impact of HIV and antiretroviral therapy on education supply in high prevalence regions.

We set out to estimate, for the three geographical regions with the highest HIV prevalence, (sub-Saharan Africa [SSA], the Caribbean and the Greater Mekong sub-region of East Asia), the human resource and economic impact of HIV on the supply of education from 2008 to 2015, the target date for the achievement of Education For All (EFA), contrasting the continuation of access to care, support and Antiretroviral therapy (ART) to the scenario of universal access.

River dolphins can act as population trend indicators in degraded freshwater systems.

Conservation attention on charismatic large vertebrates such as dolphins is often supported by the suggestion that these species represent surrogates for wider biodiversity, or act as indicators of ecosystem health. However, their capacity to act as indicators of patterns or trends in regional biodiversity has rarely been tested. An extensive new dataset of >300 last-sighting records for the Yangtze River dolphin or baiji and two formerly economically important fishes, the Yangtze paddlefish and Reeves' shad, all of which are probably now extinct in the Yangtze, was collected during an interview survey of fishing communities across the middle-lower Yangtze drainage. Untransformed last-sighting date frequency distributions for these species show similar decline curves over time, and the linear gradients of transformed last-sighting date series are not significantly different from each other, demonstrating that these species experienced correlated population declines in both timing and rate of decline. Whereas species may be expected to respond differently at the population level even in highly degraded ecosystems, highly vulnerable (e.g. migratory) species can therefore display very similar responses to extrinsic threats, even if they represent otherwise very different taxonomic, biological and ecological groupings. Monitoring the status of river dolphins or other megafauna therefore has the potential to provide wider information on the status of other threatened components of sympatric freshwater biotas, and so represents a potentially important monitoring tool for conservation management. We also show that interview surveys can provide robust quantitative data on relative population dynamics of different species.

On the transition to sustainability: an analysis of the costs of school feeding compared with the costs of primary education.

The current food, fuel, and financial crises have highlighted the importance of school feeding programs both as a social safety net for children living in poverty and food insecurity, and as part of national educational policies and plans.

Geographical and demographic clustering of gonorrhoea in London.

Gonorrhoea is an important cause of sexual ill health and is concentrated in geographical areas and demographic groups. This study explores the distribution of gonorrhoea across London.

Identification of individuals with gonorrhoea within sexual networks: a population-based study.

Molecular typing of Neisseria gonorrhoeae and contact tracing provide a combined approach for analysis of sexual networks in metropolitan areas, although there are some difficulties in application. Our aim was to examine the application of high-throughput molecular approaches that can identify individuals in linked sexual networks.