Fred de Boer
Henk van der Jeugd; Kevin Matson
Center for Avian Migration and Demography – Netherlands Institute of Ecology (NIOO-KNAW)
Last decades, Europe has witnessed (re-)emergence of multiple zoonotic mosquito-borne viruses for which bird populations act as important reservoirs. Whereas population-level effects on birds during arbovirus outbreaks are well described, the underlying individual-level dynamics (e.g. movement, immunity, mortality) and the interactions between virus, vector and host that drive population-level effects have received less attention. Prevalence of arboviruses is heterogeneous in space, time and across avian taxa. This heterogeneity in transmission results partly from feeding preferences and biting rates of mosquitoes across a range of avian taxa. Yet, we know very little about the feeding habits of European mosquitoes with respect to avian hosts, their densities and differences in attractiveness. In addition, individual bird-level predictors of survival and seroconversion probabilities (e.g. sex, age, migratory status) have not been identified, whereas these affect key parameters in predicting arbovirus transmission and spread. Moreover, while bird movements link locations across a range of spatial scales, the role of fine-scale bird movement patterns in disease spread has received little attention. At the same time, migratory birds are often suggested to introduce sub-Saharan arboviruses into European resident bird populations. While these long-distance movements by birds link otherwise isolated locations, little is known about immune regulation during and after physiologically strenuous long-distance flights and the scope this process leaves for arbovirus introductions. Gaining insight in avian disease introductions, mosquito-bird interactions and individual survival and seroconversion probabilities of wild birds will greatly improve our understanding of heterogeneity in arbovirus transmission and the role birds play in pathogen spread.
Research questions / objectives