Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Bird flu: the wildfowl trail

02.04.2007
How does the highly pathogenic bird flu virus spread to new countries? Might the domestic bird trade be responsible? Or is it wildfowl? Since last year, a team from CIRAD has been working on wildfowl.

To date, the virus has not been detected in healthy wild birds, but many dead or dying birds have been found near infection foci. Are they victims or reservoirs? In all likelihood the former, but the latter hypothesis cannot be ruled out. Six healthy ducks carrying the virus - out of a total of 4600 tested and in a particularly severely infected zone - were found in China in January 2005.

Determining the number of stages and where birds stop off during migration

In 2005 and 2006, migrating birds were often under suspicion. However, their migration corridors and periods did not necessarily correspond to the virus spread patterns seen in recent years. To clarify matters, researchers are now plotting comprehensive, accurate flight plans. To this end, with FAO funding, they are fitting birds with small Argos transmitters. This equipment will provide a large number of data and fill the gaps in information on the subject. Migration has already been studied in detail in Europe and Asia, but this is far from the case in Africa, where monitoring is limited to counting the populations in each country or ringing birds, despite the fact that some five million ducks from Eurasia winter in Subsaharan Africa and there are more than four million African ducks that fly between the different regions of the continent.

In particular, the transmitters will provide information on the number of migration stages and where the birds stop off during migration. In fact, they stop off in humid zones propitious to pathogen transmission, where the different species mix with one another. The study should also provide more general information on migration: travelling times and the ecological and manmade factors that determine the stops.

Three species in three African countries

Three species were chosen for the operation: the blue-winged teal, fulvous whistling duck and comb duck, each of which represents a typical migration route. The teal is a Europe-Asia-Africa intercontinental migrator and winters exclusively in Subsaharan Africa, where it is the most common wintering bird. The comb duck restricts its movements to Africa, but covers several regions, while the fulvous whistling duck, the most common African duck, is a nomadic species on a regional level. The researchers' first step was to test the impact of the transmitters on the birds' behaviour in captivity at Montpellier's Lunaret Zoo. They then travelled to Africa, and captured and equipped 45 birds in February. Captures were made at three sites: northern Nigeria, a very humid zone where there have been bird flu foci for more than a year; the inland delta of the Niger River, in Mali, which is the biggest wintering site for Eurasian ducks in Africa; and Malawi, which had the necessary sites for a study of interregional migration. Now that the birds have been released, they can be monitored, and the results, updated twice weekly, are now available on a CIRAD website: http://wildbirds-ai.cirad.fr.

On-line maps for real-time monitoring

The study is a first for Africa. Teams from the FAO and the United States Geological Survey, which work with CIRAD, have also equipped swans in China and Mongolia. For the time being, the researchers do not know how long the transmitters will continue to supply data (this depends on the birds' lifespan).

Each transmitter weighs between 12 and 30 grammes. The 12- and 18-gramme ones are used for teals and fulvous whistling ducks, and the 30-gramme ones for comb ducks, which are larger. They are fitted to the body of each bird, like small backpacks, using teflon straps. The location of each bird is determined using the Argos system. The transmitter emits a signal that is picked up by satellites in polar orbit at a height of 850 km. The satellites then send the signal back to terrestrial reception stations. The data received are subsequently processed by centres specializing in the Argos system. Lastly, once processed, the data are passed on to users.

The maps available on the Wild birds and avian influenza in Africa website can be used to monitor bird movements, virtually in real time. At the moment, the teals from Nigeria are moving towards Lake Chad. They should be heading north in the next few days.

Helen Burford | alfa
Further information:
http://www.cirad.fr/en/actualite/communique.php?id=667

More articles from Agricultural and Forestry Science:

nachricht Energy crop production on conservation lands may not boost greenhouse gases
13.03.2017 | Penn State

nachricht How nature creates forest diversity
07.03.2017 | International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis (IIASA)

All articles from Agricultural and Forestry Science >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: A Challenging European Research Project to Develop New Tiny Microscopes

The Institute of Semiconductor Technology and the Institute of Physical and Theoretical Chemistry, both members of the Laboratory for Emerging Nanometrology (LENA), at Technische Universität Braunschweig are partners in a new European research project entitled ChipScope, which aims to develop a completely new and extremely small optical microscope capable of observing the interior of living cells in real time. A consortium of 7 partners from 5 countries will tackle this issue with very ambitious objectives during a four-year research program.

To demonstrate the usefulness of this new scientific tool, at the end of the project the developed chip-sized microscope will be used to observe in real-time...

Im Focus: Giant Magnetic Fields in the Universe

Astronomers from Bonn and Tautenburg in Thuringia (Germany) used the 100-m radio telescope at Effelsberg to observe several galaxy clusters. At the edges of these large accumulations of dark matter, stellar systems (galaxies), hot gas, and charged particles, they found magnetic fields that are exceptionally ordered over distances of many million light years. This makes them the most extended magnetic fields in the universe known so far.

The results will be published on March 22 in the journal „Astronomy & Astrophysics“.

Galaxy clusters are the largest gravitationally bound structures in the universe. With a typical extent of about 10 million light years, i.e. 100 times the...

Im Focus: Tracing down linear ubiquitination

Researchers at the Goethe University Frankfurt, together with partners from the University of Tübingen in Germany and Queen Mary University as well as Francis Crick Institute from London (UK) have developed a novel technology to decipher the secret ubiquitin code.

Ubiquitin is a small protein that can be linked to other cellular proteins, thereby controlling and modulating their functions. The attachment occurs in many...

Im Focus: Perovskite edges can be tuned for optoelectronic performance

Layered 2D material improves efficiency for solar cells and LEDs

In the eternal search for next generation high-efficiency solar cells and LEDs, scientists at Los Alamos National Laboratory and their partners are creating...

Im Focus: Polymer-coated silicon nanosheets as alternative to graphene: A perfect team for nanoelectronics

Silicon nanosheets are thin, two-dimensional layers with exceptional optoelectronic properties very similar to those of graphene. Albeit, the nanosheets are less stable. Now researchers at the Technical University of Munich (TUM) have, for the first time ever, produced a composite material combining silicon nanosheets and a polymer that is both UV-resistant and easy to process. This brings the scientists a significant step closer to industrial applications like flexible displays and photosensors.

Silicon nanosheets are thin, two-dimensional layers with exceptional optoelectronic properties very similar to those of graphene. Albeit, the nanosheets are...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

International Land Use Symposium ILUS 2017: Call for Abstracts and Registration open

20.03.2017 | Event News

CONNECT 2017: International congress on connective tissue

14.03.2017 | Event News

ICTM Conference: Turbine Construction between Big Data and Additive Manufacturing

07.03.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Transport of molecular motors into cilia

28.03.2017 | Life Sciences

A novel hybrid UAV that may change the way people operate drones

28.03.2017 | Information Technology

NASA spacecraft investigate clues in radiation belts

28.03.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>