I study the zoonotic viruses carried by bats. Zoonoses are species jumping pathogens – diseases that leap from animals into humans (e.g. Bubonic plague, Spanish Influenza, Ebola, etc.). Bats are important reservoirs for a number of zoonotic viruses including: Rabies, Nipah, Hendra, Marburg, and SARS. The high diversity of viruses carried by bats, coupled with the apparent absence of disease, has lead many to ask if bats are ‘special’ as viral carriers. My PhD is focused on examining the role bat ecology plays in the maintenance, transmission, and spillover of bat viral pathogens. 

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We know that a number of bats species are capable of living in close association with humans, often roosting alongside us in our homes. Although we have a good sense of which species can be found in urban areas, we don't have a clear understanding of how these species may alter their behaviour in city landscapes. Using big brown bats living in High Park as a case study, I have been working with Dr. Krista Patriquin to understand the effects of urbanization on bats. Our research in High Park  is aimed at characterizing the value of green spaces to city bats, how bat behaviour changes in urban areas, and understanding the implications these behavioural changes may have for disease spread.  

Aerial photograph of High Park © Kevo


There is variation in the number of viruses carried by different species of bats - some carry a large number and others none. Using machine learning algorithms I am interested in understanding the ecological traits (i.e. diet, geographic range, sociality, etc.) that may explain why some species of bats carry more viruses than others. This information will not only help to understand traits that characterize viral reservoirs, but will help to potentially predict which bat species may be undetected carriers of zoonotic viruses of public health concern. 

Most recent phylogeny for bats published in Shi & Rabosky (2015) 


Bats are the only mammals capable of powered flight. It has been hypothesized that the large temperature changes associated with flight may play a role in helping to control bat viral infections. Using a combination of novel technology and mathematical models I aim to explore the effects of this temperature variation on viral replication within individual bats. 

Big brown bat caught in High Park © Cylita Guy


Previously, I worked with Dr. Becky Raboy on an undergraduate project while completing my H.B.Sc at the University of Toronto. Using ecological niche models, I evaluated suitable habitat for two at risk primates living in the Southern Bahian portion of the Atlantic Costal Rainforest. We used theses maps to not only understand the amount of suitable habitat remaining for species in the landscape, but also to evaluate current protected areas. You can read more about this work here:

Guy, C., Cassano, C.R., Cazarre, L., De Vleeschouwer, K.M., Kierulff, M.C.M., Neves, L.G., Oliveira, L.C., Tardio, B.M.R., Zeigler, S.L., Raboy, B.E. (2016) Evaluating landscape suitability for Golden-headed lion tamarins (Leontopithecus chrysomels) and Wied’s black tufted-ear marmosets (Callithrix kuhlii) in the Bahian Atlantic Forest. Tropical Conservation Science, 7(2): 735-757 [PDF]

Habitat suitability map for golden-headed lion tamarins

published in Guy et al. (2016)

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