CIE Spotlight: Weak negative associations between avian influenza virus infection and movement behaviour in a key host species, the mallard Anas platyrhynchos

Marcel K.

Marcel K.

Title: Weak negative associations between avian influenza virus infection and movement behaviour in a key host species, the mallard Anas platyrhynchos

Authors: van Dijk, Jacintha G. B.; Kleyheeg, Erik; Soons, Merel B.; Nolet, Bart A.; Fouchier, Ron A. M.; Klaassen, Marcel

Source: OIKOS, 124 (10):1293-1303, OCT 2015

Brief summary of the paper: Animal movements may contribute to the spread of pathogens. In the case of avian influenza virus, [migratory] birds have been suggested to play a role in the spread of some highly pathogenic strains (e.g. H5N1, H5N8), as well as their low pathogenic precursors which circulate naturally in wild birds.

For a better understanding of the emergence and spread of both highly pathogenic (HPAIV) and low pathogenic avian influenza virus (LPAIV), the potential effects of LPAIVs on bird movement need to be evaluated. In a key host species, the mallardAnas platyrhynchos, we tested whether LPAIV infection status affected daily local (< 100 m) and regional (> 100 m) movements by comparing movement behaviour 1) within individuals (captured and sampled at two time points) and 2) between individuals (captured and sampled at one time point). We fitted free-living adult males with GPS loggers throughout the autumn LPAIV infection peak, and sampled them for LPAIV infection at logger deployment and at logger removal on recapture.

Within individuals, we found no association between LPAIV infection and daily local and regional movements. Among individuals, daily regional movements of LPAIV infected mallards in the last days of tracking were lower than those of non-infected birds. Moreover, these regional movements of LPAIV infected birds were additionally reduced by poor weather conditions (i.e. increased wind and/or precipitation and lower temperatures). Local movements of LPAIV infected birds in the first days of tracking were higher when temperature decreased.

Our study thus demonstrates that bird-assisted dispersal rate of LPAIV may be lower on a regional scale than expected on the basis of the movement behaviour of non-infected birds. Our study underlines the importance of understanding the impact of pathogen infection on host movement in order to assess its potential role in the emergence and spread of infectious diseases.