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Yonas Meheretu

Yonas Meheretu
I specialize on the ecology of small mammals, population dynamics, habitat use and risks they pose to human health and agriculture.


·        Evolutionary Ecology

·        Zoology

·        Ecological Methods


My research mainly focuses on the ecology of small mammals and small mammal-associated zoonotic pathogens (RNA viruses and bacteria), understanding the drivers of host population changes over spatial and temporal spans, as well as Ecologically-Based Rodent Management (EBRM). A significant part of my research also focuses on studying the phylogenetics and phylogeography of small mammals using genomic methods, which contribute to their conservation efforts.



- Land use change and zoonotic disease spillover risks in East Africa mountain ecosystem: A One Health Study (SLU Future One Health, 2023-2024).

- Community-level Ecologically-Based Rodent Management in irrigated farming systems (NUFFIC, the Netherlands, 2023-2024). 

- Identification of best practices for biodiversity recovery and public health interventions to prevent future epidemics and pandemics (EU HORIZON, 2022-2026).

- Mainstreaming ecological restoration of freshwater-related ecosystems in a Landscape context: Innovation, upscaling and transformation (EU HORIZON, 2021-2025).

- Towards sustainable community-based mitigation of rodent issues in African cities (SCARIA); Funding: Belmont Forum Research Grant. With a consortium of 5 different institutes from Africa and Europe (Ethiopia, Madagascar, Niger, and France) (2021-2024).

Cooperations with 

- Prof Herwig Leirs, Evolutionary Ecology Group, University of Antwerp in Belgium.

- Prof Josef Bryja and Dr Joelle Gouy de Bellocq, Institute of Vertebrate Biology, Czech Academy of Sciences.

- Prof Steven Belmain, Natural Resources Institute, the University of Greenwich in the UK.

- Prof Rhodes Makundi and Prof Apia Massawe, Sokoine University of Agriculture, African Center of Excellence for Innovative Rodent Pest Management, Tanzania. 

- Prof Radim Šumbera, Department of Zoology, University of South Bohemia, Czech Republic.

- Dr Gauthier Dobigny, the French National Research Institute for Development (IRD) and The Pasteur Institute in Madagascar.

- Dr Ambroise Dalecky, the French National Research Institute for Development (IRD) and University Gaston Berger, Senegal. 

- Dr Frank van Steenbergen, MetaMeta Research, The Netherlands.

- Evan W. Craig, University of Massachusetts Boston, USA.

- Mekelle, Addis Ababa, and Woliata Sodo Universities in Ethiopia.


PhD in Biology from the University of Antwerp, Evolutionary Ecology Group, Belgium. Thesis title: "Ecology of rodents in agroecosystems in northern Ethiopia: pest and public health, 2008-2012."

MSc and BSc in Biology (Ecological and Systematic Zoology) from Addis Ababa University, Ethiopia.

Postdoc and research associate at the Department of Population Biology, Institute of Vertebrate Biology, Academy of Sciences, Czech Republic, in 2012/2013 and 2020/2021.

Associate Professor at the Department of Biology, Mekelle University, Ethiopia.

Director of the Institute of Mountain Research & Development at Mekelle University, Ethiopia.

Adjunct Associate Professor at the Department of Zoological Sciences, Addis Ababa University.


PhD students Co-supervised:

Ecology of small mammals in human-modified habitats near Lake Abaya, Ethiopia (Ph.D. candidate:  Zewdneh Tomass, Arba Minch University, Ethiopia, 2018-2021).

Ecology of small mammals and their ectoparasites along altitudinal gradients on Mount Meru, Tanzania (PhD candidate: Genet Berhe Gebrezgiher, Sokoine University of Agriculture, Tanzania., 2020-2023).

Landscape ecology and population genetics of the Ethiopian white-footed rat Stenocephalemys albipes (Ph.D. candidate: Kiros Welegeria, Sokoine University of Agriculture, Tanzania, 2019-2023).

Evolution of rodent biodiversity in eastern Afromontane biodiversity hotspot (Ph.D. Candidate: Getachew Mulualem, Masaryk University, Czech Republic, 2021-2024).

Innovative bio-substance prototype development for biological rodent pest management (Ph.D. Candidate: Abadi Berhe, Mekelle University, Ethiopia, 2019-2024).

Selected Masters' Theses Supervised:

Diversity of cave-dwelling bats in the Tigray region, Northern Ethiopia (MSc thesis: Gebru Tadesse, Mekelle University, Ethiopia, 2022-2023).

Cutaneous leishmaniasis in small mammals and sandflies in the Tigray region, Northern Ethiopia (MSc thesis: Wim De Kesel, University of Antwerp, Belgium, 2019-2020).

Genetic analysis of Tigray orthohantavirus in small mammals and humans in Ethiopia (MSc thesis: Gebregergs Brhane, Lilla-fonden, Sweden, 2017-2019).

Genetic diversity of bats and bat viromes in northern Ethiopia (MSc thesis: Teklemedhn Welu, Mekelle University, Ethiopia, 2018-2019).

Ecology of rodent-borne arenaviruses and hantaviruses in northern Ethiopia (MSc thesis: Evelyne De Wael, University of Antwerp, Belgium, 2014-2015).

Biogeographic significance of the small mammals of Kafta Sheraro National Park, Northern Ethiopia (MSc thesis: Ferej Kedir, Mekelle University, Ethiopia, 2022-2023).

Small mammals of Abohoy Gara Mountain, Ethiopia: An elevational study in the Ethiopian wolf (Canis simensis) feeding area (MSc thesis: Mohammed Endris, Mekelle University, Ethiopia, 2018-2019).

Selected publications

Meheretu, Y., Mikula, O., Frynta, D., Frýdlová, P., Mulualem, G., Lavrenchenko, L.A., Kostin, D.S., Elmi, H.S.A., Šumbera, R., Bryja, J. (2023). Phylogeny, biogeography, and integrative taxonomic revision of the Afro-Arabian rodent genus Ochromyscus (Muridae: Murinae: Praomyini). Zoological Journal of the Linnean Society,  zlad158, 

Mizerovská, D., Martynov, A.A., Mikula, O., Bryjová, A., Meheretu, Y., Lavrenchenko, L.A., Bryja, J. (2023). Genomic diversity, evolutionary history, and species limits of the endemic Ethiopian laminate-toothed rats (genus Otomys, Rodentia: Muridae). Zoological Journal of the Linnean Society, zlad063. [DOI: 10.1093/zoolinnean/zlad063]

Dalecky A, Garba M, …, Dobigny G, Meheretu Y. (2023). Rodent proliferation in urban and agricultural settings of sub-Saharan Africa: The dark side of synthetic chemical rodenticides. Environ Risque Sante, 22: 205-211. [DOI: 10.1684/ers.2023.1731]

Gebrezgiher, G.B., Makundi, R.H., Katakweba, A.A.S., Belmain, S.R., Lyimo, C.M., Meheretu, Y. (2023). Arthropod ectoparasites of two rodent species occurring in varied elevations on Tanzania’s second-highest mountain. Biology, 12(3), 394.

Donga, T.K., Bosma, L., Gawa, N., Meheretu, Y. (2023). Rodents in agriculture and public health in Malawi: farmers’ knowledge, attitudes, and practices. Frontiers in Agronomy, 4: 936908.

Bryja, J., Meheretu, Y., Boratyński, Z. Ali, Z., Denys, C., Getachew M., Kiros, W., Bryjová, A., Mohammed, K., Kostin, D.S., Martynov, A.A., Lavrenchenko, L.A. (2022). Rodents of the Afar Triangle (Ethiopia): geographical isolation causes a high level of endemism. Biodiversity and Conservation, 31, 629–650. [DOI: 10.1007/s10531-022-02354-4]

Gebrezgiher, G.B., Makundi, R.H., Meheretu, Y., Mulungu, L.S., Katakweba, A.A.S. (2022). A decade-long change in the elevational distribution of non-volant small mammals on Mount Meru, Tanzania. Diversity, 14(6), 454.

Manthey, J.D., Bourgeois, Y., Meheretu, Y., Boissinot, S. (2022). Varied diversification patterns and distinct demographic trajectories in Ethiopian montane forest bird (Aves: Passeriformes) populations separated by the Great Rift Valley. Molecular Ecology, 31(9), 2664-2678.

Krásová, J., Mikula, O., Lavrenchenko, L.A. Šumbera, R., Meheretu, Y., Bryja, J. (2022). A new rodent species of the genus Mus (Rodentia: Muridae) confirms the biogeographical uniqueness of the isolated forests of southern Ethiopia. Organisms Diversity and Evolution, 22, 491–509. [DOI: 10.1007/s13127-022-00539-x]

Lövy, M., Boratyński, Z., Okrouhlík, J., Meheretu, Y., Pleštilová, L., Šumbera, R. (2022). Alternative highland adaptations: mass of internal organs and fur insulation in small Ethiopian mammals. Journal of Zoology, 319(2), 119–130. [DOI: 10.1111/jzo.13028]

Meheretu, Y., Granberg, Å., Berhane, G., Khalil, H., Lwande, O. W., Mitiku, M., Welegerima, K., de Bellocq, J.G., Bryja, J., Abreha, H., Leirs, H., Ecke, F., Evander, M. (2021). Prevalence of Orthohantavirus-Reactive Antibodies in Humans and Peri-Domestic Rodents in Northern Ethiopia." Viruses, 13, 1054. [DOI: 10.3390/v13061054]

Bletsa, M., Vrancken, B, Gryseels, S., Boonen, I., Fikatas, A., Li, Y., Laudisoit, A., Lequime, S., Bryja, J., Makundi, R., Meheretu, Y. et al., (2021). Molecular detection and genomic characterization of diverse hepaciviruses in African rodents. Virus Evolution. [DOI: 10.1093/ve/veab036]

Nicolas, V., Mikula, O., Lavrenchenko, L.A., Šumbera, R., Bartáková, V., Bryjová, A., Meheretu, Y., Verheyen, E., Missoup, A.D., Lemmon, A.R., Lemmon, E.M., Bryja, J. (2021). Phylogenomics of African radiation of Praomyini (Muridae: Murinae) rodents: first fully resolved phylogeny, evolutionary history and delimitation of extant genera. Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution, 163, 107263.

Meheretu, Y., Stanley, W.T., Craig, E.W., Goüy de Bellocq, J., Bryja, J., Leirs, H., Pahlmann, M., Günther, S. (2019). Tigray Orthohantavirus Infects Two Related Rodent Species Adapted to Different Elevations in Ethiopia. Vector Borne and Zoonotic Diseases, 19(12), 950-953.

Bryja, J., Meheretu, Y., Šumbera, R., Lavrenchenko, L.A. (2019). Annotated checklist, taxonomy and distribution of rodents in Ethiopia. Folia Zoologica, 68(3), 117–213.

De Bellocq, J., Těšíková, J., Meheretu, Y., Čížková, D., Bryjová, A., Leirs, H., Bryja, J. (2016). Complete genome characterisation & phylogenetic position of Tigray hantavirus from the Ethiopian white-footed mouse, Stenocephalemys albipes. Infection, Genetics and Evolution, 45, 242–245.

Meheretu, Y., Leirs, H., Welegerima, K., Breno, M., Tomas, Z., Kidane, D., Girmay, K., Goüy de Bellocq, J. (2013). Bartonella prevalence and genetic diversity in small mammals from Ethiopia. Vector Borne and Zoonotic Diseases, 13(3), 164-175.

Meheretu, Y., Čížková, D., Těšíková, J., Welegerima, K., Tomas, Z., Kidane, D., Girmay, K., Schmidt-Chanasit, J., Bryja, J., Günther, S., Bryjová, A., Leirs, H., Goüy de Bellocq, J. (2012). High Diversity of RNA Viruses in Rodents, Ethiopia. Emerging Infectious Diseases, 18(12), 2047-2050.