Henk van der Jeugd; Kevin Matson
NIOO-KNAW , Vogeltrekstation Dutch Centre for Avian Migration
Increased global connectivity, socioeconomic growth and environment degradation and climate change drive the (re-)emergence of infectious diseases, which may cause a significant burden on economies and public health. The interactions between vector, host, and virus transmission are complex and therefore it has been difficult to predict timing and amplification in areas prone to virus emergence. Our project aims to understand which factors drive mosquito borne virus emergence and subsequent amplification. This will be investigated by determining the impact of the mosquito borne virus Usutu on populations of a wide range of European bird species in the Netherlands. Birds are important hosts in a range of mosquito borne viruses and are also among the best monitored taxonomic group. Therefore, changes in bird populations may act as an early warning for detection of emerging diseases. To understand the impact of diseases on animal populations we will create annual maps of Usutu occurrence by integrating dead surveillance, recovery data and live bird surveillance data. Using these spatio-temporal Usutu distribution maps and spatially explicit population trend information, we will investigate the impact of Usutu on the populations of a wide range of European bird species. Furthermore, we will investigate whether species traits, such as behaviour, phenology, habitat and community structure predict Usutu impact to determine possible ways of amplification and movement of the Usutu virus across habitats. Finally, we will investigate whether seasonal changes in the population age-structure affects virus amplification by first determining whether Common blackbird chicks differ in their immune status between urban and natural habitats, and subsequently conduct a supplementary feeding experiment to determine the effect of food conditions during the nestling phase on the immune status of nestlings.
Research questions / objectives