Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

West Nile takes its toll on rare bird

21.07.2004


West Nile virus has become a widespread human health concern, yet little attention is given to the grave situation facing certain wildlife species dying from the deadly disease, says a University of Alberta scientist. Cameron Aldridge is part of a research team to have shown that the West Nile Virus represents a significant new stressor on the sage-grouse—a species already on the endangered list in Canada and under current consideration for federal listing in the United States. "We don’t yet know whether the sage-grouse are more at risk than other species but we do know that the West Nile virus could have devastating consequences for small populations," said Aldridge, a co-author on a research paper just published in "Ecology Letters."



Aldridge was part of a team that monitored radio-marked female sage-grouse from March 2003 to September 2004 in five sites in Alberta, Montana and Wyoming. They found that populations that had their first exposure to the virus in 2003, had a 25% decrease in late summer survival of females. West Nile virus was confirmed to have killed 18 individuals whose carcases could be relocated. Serum from 112 sage-grouse collected after the outbreak show that none had antibodies, suggesting that they lack resistance.

"When we tested individual sage grouse after the outbreak of the virus in 2003, we hoped we would find antibodies present for the virus, indicating some birds were infected, fought off the virus and survived, but we didn’t see that," said Aldridge, a PhD candidate in the Faculty of Science. "The immunity appears to be extremely low for sage-grouse, which means it is going to take much longer for the population to develop resistance to the virus and to survive, if they are indeed capable. We don’t know how long small populations like those found in Alberta or Saskatchewan can survive, while losing the genetic basis needed to maintain the population, but we may not have much time."


The team’s findings suggest that large, healthy and highly productive populations that live in a high quality habitat don’t seem to be impacted as much as smaller less productive populations in poorer quality habitats--the habitat essentially ensures the population is productive, and more capable of buffering against catastrophic events. Trying to improve habitats that support robust, genetically diverse populations may be one way to try protect the bird, said Aldridge. Revisiting mosquito control programs may be another way to tackle the problem, but may only be a temporary band-aid solution.

When a species is placed on an endangered or threatened list it is often because it is already on the brink of disappearing and at that point it becomes crisis management and a fight to hang on to the species as long as possible, said Aldridge. "We have a very limited understanding of West Nile virus and its implications for the persistence of many wildlife species. Right now, our best option to help those species to combat the virus, is to ensure that they have high quality habitats with few human impacts, to ensure that populations remain productive and robust to stochastic events.

"There is a fear of listing a species on the endangered list because it completely changes how industry will have to operate, so in a sense fear is good because everyone comes together to try to benefit the bird and its habitat."

Phoebe Dey | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.ualberta.ca

More articles from Life Sciences:

nachricht Toward a 'smart' patch that automatically delivers insulin when needed
18.01.2017 | American Chemical Society

nachricht 127 at one blow...
18.01.2017 | Stiftung Zoologisches Forschungsmuseum Alexander Koenig, Leibniz-Institut für Biodiversität der Tiere

All articles from Life Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

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

Im Focus: How gut bacteria can make us ill

HZI researchers decipher infection mechanisms of Yersinia and immune responses of the host

Yersiniae cause severe intestinal infections. Studies using Yersinia pseudotuberculosis as a model organism aim to elucidate the infection mechanisms of these...

Im Focus: Interfacial Superconductivity: Magnetic and superconducting order revealed simultaneously

Researchers from the University of Hamburg in Germany, in collaboration with colleagues from the University of Aarhus in Denmark, have synthesized a new superconducting material by growing a few layers of an antiferromagnetic transition-metal chalcogenide on a bismuth-based topological insulator, both being non-superconducting materials.

While superconductivity and magnetism are generally believed to be mutually exclusive, surprisingly, in this new material, superconducting correlations...

Im Focus: Studying fundamental particles in materials

Laser-driving of semimetals allows creating novel quasiparticle states within condensed matter systems and switching between different states on ultrafast time scales

Studying properties of fundamental particles in condensed matter systems is a promising approach to quantum field theory. Quasiparticles offer the opportunity...

Im Focus: Designing Architecture with Solar Building Envelopes

Among the general public, solar thermal energy is currently associated with dark blue, rectangular collectors on building roofs. Technologies are needed for aesthetically high quality architecture which offer the architect more room for manoeuvre when it comes to low- and plus-energy buildings. With the “ArKol” project, researchers at Fraunhofer ISE together with partners are currently developing two façade collectors for solar thermal energy generation, which permit a high degree of design flexibility: a strip collector for opaque façade sections and a solar thermal blind for transparent sections. The current state of the two developments will be presented at the BAU 2017 trade fair.

As part of the “ArKol – development of architecturally highly integrated façade collectors with heat pipes” project, Fraunhofer ISE together with its partners...

Im Focus: How to inflate a hardened concrete shell with a weight of 80 t

At TU Wien, an alternative for resource intensive formwork for the construction of concrete domes was developed. It is now used in a test dome for the Austrian Federal Railways Infrastructure (ÖBB Infrastruktur).

Concrete shells are efficient structures, but not very resource efficient. The formwork for the construction of concrete domes alone requires a high amount of...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

12V, 48V, high-voltage – trends in E/E automotive architecture

10.01.2017 | Event News

2nd Conference on Non-Textual Information on 10 and 11 May 2017 in Hannover

09.01.2017 | Event News

Nothing will happen without batteries making it happen!

05.01.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

A big nano boost for solar cells

18.01.2017 | Power and Electrical Engineering

Glass's off-kilter harmonies

18.01.2017 | Materials Sciences

Toward a 'smart' patch that automatically delivers insulin when needed

18.01.2017 | Life Sciences

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>