Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Researchers find that hunting can increase the severity of wildlife disease epidemics

17.07.2006
A new study by University of Georgia researchers shows that the common practice of killing wild animals to control disease outbreaks can actually make matters worse in some cases.

In a study published the August 7 edition of the journal Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences, post-doctoral researcher Marc Choisy and Pejman Rohani, associate professor of ecology and UGA Biomedical and Health Sciences Institute researcher, create a detailed mathematical model that demonstrates how the combination of hunting and factors such as birth season and mating season influence disease outbreaks. Their results suggest that wildlife managers and health officials use caution when considering hunting or culling as a means to manage diseases as diverse as rabies, tuberculosis and even avian influenza.

“One consequence of hunting that we show in this paper is that it can increase the probability of dying from the disease,” Choisy said. “It can give you results that are contrary to what you expect.”

The reasoning behind killing wild animals to control disease outbreaks is simple: fewer animals should result in reduced transmission of disease. Hunting has been used to control badger populations in England, rabies in European foxes and chronic wasting disease in deer and elk populations in the American West. The researchers note that in each instance, disease outbreaks have worsened in response to the hunting.

One reason the policies failed, Choisy and Rohani said, is that they didn’t take into account an ecological principle known as compensation. When a portion of the animal population is reduced, those that survive are left with more resources such as food and shelter. As a result of the newly plentiful resources, the death rate decreases and the birth rate increases, compensating – and sometimes overcompensating – for the loss.

Killing wild animals can also increase the proportion of the population that’s susceptible to disease by removing those individuals who have contracted a virus but have developed lifelong immunity as a result of their infection.

The researchers found that compensation and lifelong immunity conferred by a virus interact so that the timing of mating and birth seasons determine whether hunting increases or decreases disease prevalence. They found that an outbreak is barely affected when hunting occurs between mating and birth season while an outbreak lessens when hunting occurs during the birth season. An outbreak increases dramatically when hunting occurs between the birth season and the next mating season.

The effect can be so dramatic that in some cases hunting can increase not only the proportion of infections and deaths, but also the absolute numbers. For example, their model shows that in the case of swine fever, a highly infectious disease threatening boars and pigs in Europe, hunting can increase the number of infected individuals by twenty five percent.

“If we want to preserve the hunted population, we should be careful about when we schedule the hunting season compared to birth season because if it’s too early or late, it can drive the population to extinction,” Rohani said. “If we want to control a disease in the host population, the timing of the hunting season can be chosen to be optimal for that.”

Sam Fahmy | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.uga.edu

More articles from Ecology, The Environment and Conservation:

nachricht Dispersal of Fish Eggs by Water Birds – Just a Myth?
19.02.2018 | Universität Basel

nachricht Removing fossil fuel subsidies will not reduce CO2 emissions as much as hoped
08.02.2018 | International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis (IIASA)

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: Developing reliable quantum computers

International research team makes important step on the path to solving certification problems

Quantum computers may one day solve algorithmic problems which even the biggest supercomputers today can’t manage. But how do you test a quantum computer to...

Im Focus: In best circles: First integrated circuit from self-assembled polymer

For the first time, a team of researchers at the Max-Planck Institute (MPI) for Polymer Research in Mainz, Germany, has succeeded in making an integrated circuit (IC) from just a monolayer of a semiconducting polymer via a bottom-up, self-assembly approach.

In the self-assembly process, the semiconducting polymer arranges itself into an ordered monolayer in a transistor. The transistors are binary switches used...

Im Focus: Demonstration of a single molecule piezoelectric effect

Breakthrough provides a new concept of the design of molecular motors, sensors and electricity generators at nanoscale

Researchers from the Institute of Organic Chemistry and Biochemistry of the CAS (IOCB Prague), Institute of Physics of the CAS (IP CAS) and Palacký University...

Im Focus: Hybrid optics bring color imaging using ultrathin metalenses into focus

For photographers and scientists, lenses are lifesavers. They reflect and refract light, making possible the imaging systems that drive discovery through the microscope and preserve history through cameras.

But today's glass-based lenses are bulky and resist miniaturization. Next-generation technologies, such as ultrathin cameras or tiny microscopes, require...

Im Focus: Stem cell divisions in the adult brain seen for the first time

Scientists from the University of Zurich have succeeded for the first time in tracking individual stem cells and their neuronal progeny over months within the intact adult brain. This study sheds light on how new neurons are produced throughout life.

The generation of new nerve cells was once thought to taper off at the end of embryonic development. However, recent research has shown that the adult brain...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

VideoLinks
Industry & Economy
Event News

2nd International Conference on High Temperature Shape Memory Alloys (HTSMAs)

15.02.2018 | Event News

Aachen DC Grid Summit 2018

13.02.2018 | Event News

How Global Climate Policy Can Learn from the Energy Transition

12.02.2018 | Event News

 
Latest News

Stiffness matters

22.02.2018 | Life Sciences

Magnetic field traces gas and dust swirling around supermassive black hole

22.02.2018 | Physics and Astronomy

First evidence of surprising ocean warming around Galápagos corals

22.02.2018 | Earth Sciences

VideoLinks
Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>