Michael Spelman



Undergraduate Researcher (former)





Research Interests
My primary research interest is studying the ecology and epidemiology of wildlife disease.
Research in the Samuel Lab
I am currently studying scraping behavior as a potential means of Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD) transmission (Link).  This research was done as part of an undergraduate course (Wildlife Ecology 299).
Scraping takes place in the fall (mostly October and November) and is related to breeding activity.  A scrape consists of an overhanging branch which deer scent marks and an area of pawed ground underneath the branch.  Behaviors that a deer engage in at a scrape site include licking the branch, antler rubbing/scent marking the branch, pawing the ground, sniffing the branch, sniffing the ground, and urinating.  It has been hypothesized that many of these behaviors could spread CWD via the environment, and thus scraping behaviors could potentially transmit the disease.  Also, environmental transmission via scraping could account for the differences in prevalence among different sex and age classes.
Please note that transmission via scraping has not been proven. More research is needed on environmental transmission of CWD, especially via urine and saliva.

 Other Interests
I enjoy hiking in the great outdoors, watching movies, brewing beer, and playing in the snow with my dog.