Madeleine Lausted ’24


Ecology and Evolutionary Biology

Project Title

Health and Conservation at the Human-Domestic Animal-Wildlife Interface in Madagascar

Presentation Link

View Madeleine's Presentation

Certificate(s): French Language and Culture, Global Health and Health Policy

Toxoplasma gondii is a zoonotic parasite that relies on felid hosts for sexual reproduction but has been highly effective at infecting a wide range of warm-blooded hosts across the world. The parasite can be acquired through environmental contact or consuming infected meat. Research indicates that T. gondii arrived more recently to Madagascar, and that endemic species are increasingly coming into contact with T. gondii through intermediate hosts such as black rats and domestic chickens. I assisted the Metcalf Lab in characterizing the spread of T. gondii in Madagascar. My co-interns and I took biological samples from a range of endemic carnivores and invasive species. This included hands-on work to safely trap the subjects, take samples, and release them. We also set and monitored camera traps to gather behavioral data. We extracted DNA from the samples and completed other processing in a molecular laboratory. We were able to estimate the prevalence of T. gondii among endemic and invasive species, which provides a strong foundation for the continuation of the project in future years. We hope these results will give valuable insights to conservation and public health efforts.

* This internship is connected to the HMEI Biodiversity Grand Challenges project, “Biodiversity Conservation and Health at the Human-Domestic Animal-Wildlife Interface in Madagascar.”

Internship Year


Project Category

Biodiversity and Conservation


Metcalf Lab, Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, Princeton University - Antananarivo, Madagascar; Betampona Natural Reserve, Madagascar


C. Jessica Metcalf, Associate Professor of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology and Public Affairs; Fidisoa Rasambainarivo, Postdoctoral Research Associate, High Meadows Environmental Institute; Benjamin Rice, Associate Research Scholar, High Meadows Environmental Institute