Southwood Prize 2022: Winner announced for early career researcher award

Journal of Applied Ecology is pleased to announce Paula Prist as the winner of the 2022 Southwood Prize! The award is given to the best article in the journal by an author at the start of their career and was picked from a shortlist of 12 articles. 

Winner: Paula Prist

Research: Roads and forest edges facilitate yellow fever virus dispersion

About the research

Much has been said about the connections between the biodiversity and the human health crises, yet, practical evidence of these connections remains relatively rare. As such, this research by Prist and colleagues represents an important contribution towards advancing our understanding of the processes by which the loss of biodiversity can enhance disease spread.

© Paula Prist

In this winning research article, Prist et al tried to understand how landscape structure affects yellow fever virus dispersion, and consequently, disease risk. Landscape structure is important for a wide range of ecological processes, including to disease spread, once it can facilitate or impede vector (mosquitoes) dispersion.

Understanding through which elements of the landscape a vector can move, and at what speed, can allow not only for a better landscape planning, but also for better organisation of vaccination campaigns or other preventive measures.

Prist and colleagues found that yellow fever virus disperses on average 1.42 km every day, and uses roads adjacent to forest areas and along forest edges (within a range of 100 m) in interface with agricultural areas, to disperse.  Core areas of forest regions were also found to be important barriers for virus movement.

© Paula Prist

This study shows that, potentially, protected areas and other large forest areas can be an important barrier to the virus, contributing to the provision of disease regulation services and to the maintenance of human health.

About the winner

Paula is currently a scientist at EcoHealth Alliance, USA. Originally from Brazil, Dr. Prist tries to understand the impacts of land use change on human health. Her current work focuses mainly on finding solutions to prevent epidemics of zoonotic diseases and to enhance the maintenance of human health in tropical areas.

© Paula Prist

Read the winning article: “Roads and forest edges facilitate yellow fever virus dispersion” in Journal of Applied Ecology, as well as the whole list of shortlisted papers for the 2022 Southwood Prize in our virtual issue.

Paula’s podcast episode discussing the research and what it’s like to be an ecologist can be found on Spotify here and on SoundCloud here.

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