Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Might migrating birds have infected the Svalbard Arctic fox with parasites?

22.12.2008
Kristin Wear Prestrud comes from Sætre in Hurum, and graduated from the Norwegian School of Veterinary Science in 1999.

After working for some five years at the veterinary school, primarily in the small animal clinic, she has for the last four years been employed as a Research Fellow at the Section of Arctic veterinary Medicine, The Norwegian School of Veterinary Science in Tromsø.

The cat is the main host for Toxoplasma and spreads the infection in its droppings. Previous research has shown that isolated island groups without cats are in reality free of the parasite. Man can also be infected by eating meat from infected animals, and it can be transmitted to the embryo and deform it if the mother is infected while pregnant.

In her doctoral thesis, Kristin Wear Prestrud studied the distribution of the parasite in different animal species on Svalbard, and looked at the relationships with Toxoplasma strains in other parts of the world. Antibodies to Toxoplasma were found in the blood of the Arctic fox, polar bear, walrus, Svalbard reindeer, the sibling vole and several avian species.

Forty-three percent of the Arctic foxes sampled bore antibodies to the parasite. The incidence in polar bears was also high, and in walrus somewhat lower. Of avian species, the barnacle goose was the most common at 7% positive. The high incidence in Arctic foxes and polar bears was unexpected, because cats are forbidden on Svalbard and the only cats on the archipelago are some illegal ones at Barentsburg.

Kristin Wear Prestrud showed in her doctoral thesis that migratory birds are a probable source of infection for the parasite Toxoplasma gondii on Svalbard (the Spitsbergen archipelago), which has then infected the Arctic fox population, among other animals. The parasite can infect all animals and birds, including man, and normally produces few symptoms. It may, however, lead to the disease of toxoplasmosis, and over the years several Arctic foxes have been found dead from this infection on Svalbard.

In her thesis, Prestrud described migrating birds as a possible route of infection of Toxoplasma in the Arctic fox population on Svalbard. Genetic analyses showed that the parasite on Svalbard is identical to the most common Toxoplasma strains one finds in Europe, which supports the idea of a European source of infection on Svalbard.

Several bird species that breed on Svalbard overwinter in the more populated parts of Europe, where they might become infected. Geese, which graze on cultivated land during their migration, are especially suspect, and are a preferred prey of the Arctic fox during the summer. Transmission from mother to unborn offspring in the uterus may be significant for the Arctic fox, but probably not in polar bears, and it is likely that the level of infection in the fox and polar bear populations is also maintained by the animals eating their own species, which primarily occurs during the wintertime when available food is scarce.

Kristin W. Prestrud defended her thesis for the degree of Ph. D. at the Norwegian School of Veterinary Science, with the title "Toxoplasma gondii in the high arctic archipelago of Svalbard", on October 28, 2008.

Magnhild Jenssen | alfa
Further information:
http://www.veths.no
http://www.veths.no/105/English/Kima/Might-migrating-birds-have-infected-the-Svalbard-Arctic-fox-with-parasites/

More articles from Ecology, The Environment and Conservation:

nachricht Listening in: Acoustic monitoring devices detect illegal hunting and logging
14.12.2017 | Gesellschaft für Ökologie e.V.

nachricht How fires are changing the tundra’s face
12.12.2017 | Gesellschaft für Ökologie e.V.

All articles from Ecology, The Environment and Conservation >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

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

Im Focus: Long-lived storage of a photonic qubit for worldwide teleportation

MPQ scientists achieve long storage times for photonic quantum bits which break the lower bound for direct teleportation in a global quantum network.

Concerning the development of quantum memories for the realization of global quantum networks, scientists of the Quantum Dynamics Division led by Professor...

Im Focus: Electromagnetic water cloak eliminates drag and wake

Detailed calculations show water cloaks are feasible with today's technology

Researchers have developed a water cloaking concept based on electromagnetic forces that could eliminate an object's wake, greatly reducing its drag while...

Im Focus: Scientists channel graphene to understand filtration and ion transport into cells

Tiny pores at a cell's entryway act as miniature bouncers, letting in some electrically charged atoms--ions--but blocking others. Operating as exquisitely sensitive filters, these "ion channels" play a critical role in biological functions such as muscle contraction and the firing of brain cells.

To rapidly transport the right ions through the cell membrane, the tiny channels rely on a complex interplay between the ions and surrounding molecules,...

Im Focus: Towards data storage at the single molecule level

The miniaturization of the current technology of storage media is hindered by fundamental limits of quantum mechanics. A new approach consists in using so-called spin-crossover molecules as the smallest possible storage unit. Similar to normal hard drives, these special molecules can save information via their magnetic state. A research team from Kiel University has now managed to successfully place a new class of spin-crossover molecules onto a surface and to improve the molecule’s storage capacity. The storage density of conventional hard drives could therefore theoretically be increased by more than one hundred fold. The study has been published in the scientific journal Nano Letters.

Over the past few years, the building blocks of storage media have gotten ever smaller. But further miniaturization of the current technology is hindered by...

Im Focus: Successful Mechanical Testing of Nanowires

With innovative experiments, researchers at the Helmholtz-Zentrums Geesthacht and the Technical University Hamburg unravel why tiny metallic structures are extremely strong

Light-weight and simultaneously strong – porous metallic nanomaterials promise interesting applications as, for instance, for future aeroplanes with enhanced...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

See, understand and experience the work of the future

11.12.2017 | Event News

Innovative strategies to tackle parasitic worms

08.12.2017 | Event News

AKL’18: The opportunities and challenges of digitalization in the laser industry

07.12.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Plasmonic biosensors enable development of new easy-to-use health tests

14.12.2017 | Health and Medicine

New type of smart windows use liquid to switch from clear to reflective

14.12.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

BigH1 -- The key histone for male fertility

14.12.2017 | Life Sciences

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>