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Transboundary and Emerging Diseases







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Zoonotic diseases are of considerable concern to the human population and viruses such as avian influenza (AIV) threaten food security, wildlife conservation and human health. Wild waterfowl and the natural wetlands they use are known AIV reservoirs, with birds capable of virus transmission to domestic poultry populations. While infection risk models have linked migration routes and AIV outbreaks, there is a limited understanding of wild waterfowl presence on commercial livestock facilities, and movement patterns linked to natural wetlands. We documented 11 wild waterfowl (three Anatidae species) in or near eight commercial livestock facilities in Washington and California with GPS telemetry data. Wild ducks used dairy and beef cattle feed lots and facility retention ponds during both day and night suggesting use for roosting and foraging. Two individuals (single locations) were observed inside poultry facility boundaries while using nearby wetlands. Ducks demonstrated high site fidelity, returning to the same areas of habitats (at livestock facilities and nearby wetlands), across months or years, showed strong connectivity with surrounding wetlands, and arrived from wetlands up to 1251 km away in the week prior. Telemetry data provides substantial advantages over observational data, allowing assessment of individual movement behaviour and wetland connectivity that has significant implications for outbreak management. Telemetry improves our understanding of risk factors for waterfowl–livestock virus transmission and helps identify factors associated with coincident space use at the wild waterfowl–domestic livestock interface. Our research suggests that even relatively small or isolated natural and artificial water or food sources in/near facilities increases the likelihood of attracting waterfowl, which has important consequences for managers attempting to minimize or prevent AIV outbreaks. Use and interpretation of telemetry data, especially in near-real-time, could provide key information for reducing virus transmission risk between waterfowl and livestock, improving protective barriers between wild and domestic species, and abating outbreaks.

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U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service


AIV, domestic poultry, GPS telemetry, migration, surrogate habitat, wild birds, wild-domestic interface, zoonotic diseases

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Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial 4.0 License


Moss Landing Marine Laboratories