Chapter

Management of Disease in Wild Mammals

pp 9-29

Wildlife Population Structure and Parasite Transmission: Implications for Disease Management

  • Paul C. CrossAffiliated withNorthern Rocky Mountain Science Center, U.S. Geological SurveyDepartment of Ecology, Montana State University
  • , Julian DreweAffiliated withWildlife Health and Conservation Medicine Group, Department of Veterinary Medicine, University of Cambridge
  • , Victoria PatrekAffiliated withDepartment of Ecology, Montana State University
  • , Gareth PearceAffiliated withWildlife Health and Conservation Medicine Group, Department of Veterinary Medicine, University of Cambridge
  • , Michael D. SamuelAffiliated withU.S. Geological Survey, Wisconsin Cooperative Wildlife Research Unit, University of Wisconsin
  • , Richard J. DelahayAffiliated with

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Emerging infectious diseases have become an important challenge for wildlife ecologists and managers. Management actions to control these diseases are usually directed at the parasite, the host population, or a key component of the environment, with the goal of reducing disease exposure and transmission. Control methods directed at the host population, however, remain limited in approach (e.g. vaccination, population reduction, test-and-remove) and scope, by financial, logistical, ethical and political constraints. Furthermore, these control methods have often been implemented without due consideration of how host ecology and behaviour may influence disease dynamics. This chapter highlights how host population structure and social organisation affect parasite transmission and prevalence.

Traditionally, variation in disease prevalence among species, genders, and ages may have been explained by immunological differences in susceptibility. However, ecological and behavioural factors can also affect the rates and routes of parasite transmission and potential control options. Using this information, future control efforts may be improved by focusing on subsets of individuals, areas, environmental factors, or times of year that are most important in the propagation and persistence of a pathogen.