Aura Raulo

Research Interests

I study the flow of symbiotic microbiota in the social contact networks of wild mice (Apodemus sylvaticus). My background is in island ecology and this has led me in trying to study wild animals as if they are moving islands, carrying a mini-ecosystem of bacteria inside of them. When ever two animals come in close contact, theres a change for these microbes to spead between them. This way, we can treat the social networks of host animals as the road map (or bridge map) for microbiome transmission that shapes the unique and influential gut microbial communities living inside these animals. To achieve this, I'm involved with developing new RFID-based tracking and trapping technology to collect high-resolution gut microbial and behavioural data. In addition, I'm developing Bayesian regression methods for analysing pairwise data, such as linking microbiota similarity between two individuals to the strength of their social association.

I combine applications from network modeling and metacommunity ecology to understand how patterns of social transmission, interactions with host physiology and microbial community dynamics shape the cocktail of gut microbiome in wild mammls and how these microbes in turn affect their host's behaviour and survival. My toolkit includes rubber boots, next-generation sequencing techniques, RFID tracking technology, social network analysis and all kinds of statistical tricks to deal with complex autocorrelation structures of dyadic data. Ideas of networks and connectedness haunt me in all fields of life: When not submerged science, I run a metaphor club and work as an installation artist illustrating network processes of life.