Hill and Mountain Research Center

Crianlarich, United Kingdom

Hill and Mountain Research Center

Crianlarich, United Kingdom
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Duncan A.J.,Inverness College UHI | Gunn G.J.,Epidemiology Research Unit | Lewis F.I.,University of Zürich | Umstatter C.,Hill and Mountain Research Center | Humphry R.W.,Epidemiology Research Unit
Epidemics | Year: 2012

We present two stochastic models of the passage of an SEIR (susceptible-latent-infected-resistant) disease through herds of cattle. One model is based on a contact network constructed via continuously recorded interaction data from two herds of cattle, the other, a matching network constructed using the principles of mass-action mixing. The recorded contact data were produced by attaching proximity data loggers to two separate herds of cattle during two separate recording periods. The network constructed using the principles of mass-action mixing uses the same number of contacts as the recorded network but distributes them randomly amongst the animals. The recorded networks had a greater number of repeated contacts, lower closeness and clustering scores and greater average path length than the mass-action networks. A lower proportion of simulations of the recorded network produce any disease spread when compared to those simulations of the mass-action network and, of those that did, fewer infected animals were predicted. For all parameter values tested, within the sensitivity analysis, similar differences were found between the recorded and mass-action network models. © 2012 Elsevier B.V.

McLaren A.,Hill and Mountain Research Center | Brotherstone S.,University of Edinburgh | Lambe N.R.,Hill and Mountain Research Center | Conington J.,Animal and Veterinary science | And 2 more authors.
Animal | Year: 2015

In order to assess the extent of genotype by environment interactions (G×E) and environmental sensitivity in sheep farm systems, environmental factors must be identified and quantified, after which the relationship with the traits(s) of interest can be investigated. The objectives of this study were to develop a farm environment (FE) scale, using a canonical correlation analysis, which could then be used in linear reaction norm models. Fine-scale farm survey data, collected from a sample of 39 Texel flocks across the United Kingdom, was combined with information available at the national level. The farm survey data included information on flock size and concentrate feed use. National data included flock performance averages for 21-week-old weight (21WT), ultrasound back-fat (UFD) and muscle (UMD) depths, as well as regional climatic data. The FE scale developed was then combined with 181 555 (21WT), 175 399 (UMD) and 175 279 (UFD) records from lambs born between 1990 and 2011, on 494 different Texel flocks, to predict reaction norms for sires used within the population. A range of sire sensitivities estimated across the FE scale confirmed the presence of genetic variability as both 'plastic' and 'robust' genotypes were observed. Variations in heritability estimates were also observed indicating that the rate genetic progress was dependent on the environment. Overall, the techniques and approaches used in this study have proven to be useful in defining sheep FEs. The results observed for 21WT, UMD and UFD, using the reaction norm models, indicate that in order to improve genetic gain and flock efficiency, future genetic evaluations would benefit by accounting for the G×E observed. © 2015 The Animal Consortium.

Lloyd K.M.,Landcare Research | Pollock M.L.,Hill and Mountain Research Center | Mason N.W.H.,Landcare Research | Lee W.G.,Landcare Research
New Zealand Journal of Ecology | Year: 2010

Leaf functional traits have been proposed as general indicators of plant palatability to ungulate herbivores, identifying which species are likely to be most at risk from ungulates, and how ungulate grazing may change ecosystem processes. However, few studies have tested whether leaf trait-palatability relationships are consistent across different ungulate species. The palatability of 44 native New Zealand grass taxa (from the genera Festuca and Chionochloa) to two ungulate herbivores (sheep Ovis aries and red deer Cervus elaphus scoticus) was assessed in cafeteria experiments. There were significant differences between sheep and deer in the selection or avoidance of grass taxa, in part related to differences in response to variation in leaf functional traits. Deer had a greater tendency than sheep to select grasses with a higher specific leaf area (SLA) and to avoid taxa with a low SLA, suggesting that it is not possible to generalise leaf trait-palatability relationships across different ungulate species. Results suggest different ungulate species are likely to have additive effects on the biodiversity and ecosystem functioning of New Zealand's native grasslands. These findings indicate that the impacts of ungulate herbivory on ecosystem processes will depend on which grass species are present. © New Zealand Ecological Society.

McLaren A.,Hill and Mountain Research Center | Lambe N.R.,Hill and Mountain Research Center | Morgan-Davies C.,Hill and Mountain Research Center | Mrode R.,Roslin Institute | And 4 more authors.
Animal | Year: 2014

The objective of this study was to define different terminal sire flock environments, based on a range of environmental factors, and then investigate the presence of genotype by environment interactions (G×E) between the environments identified. Data from 79 different terminal sire flocks (40 Texel, 21 Charollais and 18 Suffolk), were analysed using principal coordinate and non-hierarchical cluster analyses, the results of which identified three distinct environmental cluster groups. The type of grazing, climatic conditions and the use of vitamins and mineral supplements were found to be the most important factors in the clustering of flocks. The presence of G×E was then investigated using data from the Charollais flocks only. Performance data were collected for 12 181 lambs, between 1990 and 2010, sired by 515 different sires. Fifty six of the sires had offspring in at least two of the three different cluster groups and pedigree information was available for a total of 161 431 animals. Traits studied were the 21-week old weight (21WT), ultrasound muscle depth (UMD) and log transformed backfat depth (LogUFD). Heritabilities estimated for each cluster, for each trait, ranged from 0.32 to 0.45. Genetic correlations estimated between Cluster 1 and Cluster 2 were all found to be significantly lower than unity, indicating the presence of G×E. They were 0.31 (±0.17), 0.68 (±0.14) and 0.18 (±0.21) for 21WT, UMD and LogUFD, respectively. Evidence of sires re-ranking across clusters was also observed. Providing a suitable strategy can be identified, there is potential for the optimisation of future breeding programmes, by taking into account the G×E observed. This would enable farmers to identify and select animals with an increased knowledge as to how they will perform in their specific farm environment thus reducing any unexpected differences in performance. © The Animal Consortium 2014.

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