David Wagner


Associate Professor
Phone: 928-523-0686
Fax: 928-523-0639
Email: Dave.Wagner@nau.edu
Office: Microbial Genetics and Genomics Center


Department of Biological Sciences
Northern Arizona University
PO Box 5640
Flagstaff AZ 86011-5640
More info: Microbial Genetics and Genomics Center 

Research/teaching interests

  • ecology
  • evolution of infectious diseases

Academic highlights

  • Postdoctoral: 2002-2005 Northern Arizona University
  • PhD: 2002 Biological Sciences, Northern Arizona University
  • MS: 1998 Zoology, Southern Illinois University
  • BA: 1994 Biology, Concordia University
  • BS: 1994 Secondary Education, Concordia University

Infectious diseases exist as complex ecological systems involving interactions among a variety of components. These components may include: the pathogen, reservoir hosts, amplifications hosts, and multiple vector species.

My research is focused on using genetic variation within pathogen, vector, and host species to better understand the distribution, ecology, evolutionary history, and transmission patterns of infectious diseases.

I am particularly interested in analyzing genetic variation using phylogenetic models and mapping temporal and spatial patterns of that variation using geographical information systems (GIS).

Much of my current research focuses on the ecology of plague, a disease caused by the bacterium Yersinia pestis.

Plague is an established but exotic disease in North America, having been introduced approximately 100 years ago. As such, it is an ideal model system for examining the ecological factors that influence the establishment and persistence of exotic diseases in new geographical locations.

These models are important as, given the increased pace of global trade, it is likely that many future threats to the health of humans and wildlife will be caused by the introduction of novel, exotic pathogens.

Gunnison’s prairie dogs (Cynomys gunnisoni) are large ground squirrels that form dense colonies in the high desert grasslands of northern Arizona.

In 2001, a large outbreak of plague (caused by the bacterium Yersinia pestis) wiped out many of the prairie dog colonies around Flagstaff.

Selected publications

Farlow, J., D.M. Wagner, M. Dukerich, M.Stanley, M. Chu, K. Kubota, J. Petersen, and P. Keim. 2005. Francisellatularensis in the United States. Emerging Infectious Diseases 11:1835-1841. 

Lowell, J.F., D.M. Wagner, B. Atshabar,M.F. Antolin, A.J. Vogler, P. Keim, M.C. Chu, and K.L. Gage. 2005. Identifyingsources of human exposure to plague. Journal of Clinical Microbiology 43:650-656. 

Achtman, M., G. Morelli, P. Zhu, T. Wirth, I. Diehl, A.J. Vogler, D.M. Wagner, C.J. Allender, W.R. Easterday, V.Chenal-Francisque, P. Worsham, N.R. Thomson, J. Parkhill, L.E. Lindler, E.Carniel, and P. Keim. 2004. Microevolution and history of the plague bacillus,Yersinia pestis. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the U.S.A.101:17837-17842. 

Girard, J.M.*, Wagner, D.M.*, A.J.Vogler, C. Keys, C.J. Allender, L.C. Drickamer, and P. Keim. 2004. Differentialplague transmission dynamics determine Yersinia pestis population genetic structure at local, regional, and global scales. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the U.S.A. 101:8408-8413. (*indicates co-first authorship) 

Wagner, D.M., and L.C. Drickamer. 2004. Abiotichabitat correlates of Gunnison’s prairie dogs in Arizona. Journal of WildlifeManagement 68:188-197.