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Keighley, United Kingdom

Shuttleworth C.M.,Bangor University | Everest D.J.,Animal Health and Veterinary Laboratories Agency Weybridge | McInnes C.J.,Moredun Research Institute | Greenwood A.,International Zoo Veterinary Group | And 3 more authors.
Hystrix | Year: 2014

Squirrelpox virus (SQPV) and adenovirus produce pathological disease in native red squirrels (Sciurus vulgaris). SQPV in particular is a significant factor in regional population declines and is generally prevalent in the UK's introduced grey squirrel (Sciurus carolinensis) population as an asymptomatic infection. Despite the role of the grey squirrel as a virus reservoir and potential inter-specific infection pathways being highlighted, there remains a paucity of field study data with known relative inter-specific infection rates and quantified frequency of interactions. Intriguingly, whilst captive zoological red squirrel collections are often present within woodland habitat containing wild grey squirrels, clinical pox cases are rarely observed unless red squirrels are released from the enclosures. In 2011 we monitored grey squirrel activity on an enclosure containing red squirrels. Grey squirrels were present for a cumulative total of 47.5 minutes within the twenty four hours of observation. A range of behaviours were recorded including feeding, and instances where discarded food fell into the red squirrel enclosures below. We interpret the value of these observations in the context of published theories of viral transmission. The local grey squirrels were subsequently culled and tested for evidence of both historical and current SQPV and adenovirus infections. Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR) assays did not amplify adenovirus DNA from grey squirrel blood samples, but positive results were recorded in faeces (3/18, 17%) and (10/18, 56%) in parallel spleen samples from the same animals. This variation in tissue specific detection rates suggests that previous long-term surveillance of adenovirus in wild grey squirrels focussing on blood samples may have significantly underestimated true infection rates. Enzyme-Linked Immunosorbent Assay (ELISA) tests revealed exposure to SQPV by antibody presence in 33% of the animals. Additionally, 22% of the animals contained detectable levels of both viruses. In parallel with laboratory and field studies in 2011, we collated historical unpublished reports and archived data from a range of UK squirrel collections and highlight some key cases of infection. We recommend that further behavioural and viral screening studies are focussed within scenarios where captive red squirrels are sympatric with wild grey squirrels. Source

Tollington S.,University of Kent | Greenwood A.,International Zoo Veterinary Group | Jones C.G.,Mauritian Wildlife Foundation | Hoeck P.,Institute for Conservation Research | And 5 more authors.
Journal of Animal Ecology | Year: 2015

Infectious diseases are widely recognized to have substantial impact on wildlife populations. These impacts are sometimes exacerbated in small endangered populations, and therefore, the success of conservation reintroductions to aid the recovery of such species can be seriously threatened by outbreaks of infectious disease. Intensive management strategies associated with conservation reintroductions can further compound these negative effects in such populations. Exploring the sublethal effects of disease outbreaks among natural populations is challenging and requires longitudinal, individual life-history data on patterns of reproductive success and other indicators of individual fitness. Long-term monitoring data concerning detailed reproductive information of the reintroduced Mauritius parakeet (Psittacula echo) population collected before, during and after a disease outbreak was investigated. Deleterious effects of an outbreak of beak and feather disease virus (BFDV) were revealed on hatch success, but these effects were remarkably short-lived and disproportionately associated with breeding pairs which took supplemental food. Individual BFDV infection status was not predicted by any genetic, environmental or conservation management factors and was not associated with any of our measures of immune function, perhaps suggesting immunological impairment. Experimental immunostimulation using the PHA (phytohaemagglutinin assay) challenge technique did, however, provoke a significant cellular immune response. We illustrate the resilience of this bottlenecked and once critically endangered, island-endemic species to an epidemic outbreak of BFDV and highlight the value of systematic monitoring in revealing inconspicuous but nonetheless substantial ecological interactions. Our study demonstrates that the emergence of such an infectious disease in a population ordinarily associated with increased susceptibility does not necessarily lead to deleterious impacts on population growth and that negative effects on reproductive fitness can be short-lived. © 2015 The Authors. Source

Sanders J.L.,Oregon State University | Watral V.,Oregon State University | Stidworthy M.F.,International Zoo Veterinary Group | Kent M.L.,Oregon State University
Zebrafish | Year: 2016

The microsporidium, Pseudoloma neurophilia, is the most common infectious organism found in laboratory zebrafish colonies. Many currently used zebrafish lines originally came from pet store fish, and the initial description of P. Neurophilia came from zebrafish obtained from a retail pet store. However, as P. Neurophilia has not been described from wild-caught zebrafish, whether P. Neurophilia is a natural pathogen of zebrafish is an open question. The pooling of fish of different species in the aquarium fish trade is common and a generalist parasite could be transmitted to novel hosts in this scenario. We determined that P. Neurophilia can infect seven species of fishes from five families by cohabitation with infected zebrafish: Betta splendens, Xiphophorus maculatus, Devario aequipinnatus, Pimephales promelas, Oryzias latipes, Carassius auratus and Paracheirodon innesi. Infections in these fishes were histologically similar to those of zebrafish. We include a case report of a laboratory population of fathead minnows with naturally acquired P. Neurophilia infections. With such a broad host range, including several fish families, other laboratory fishes should be screened routinely for this and other microsporidian parasites. © 2016 Mary Ann Liebert, Inc. Source

Tollington S.,University of Kent | Tollington S.,University of Sheffield | Jones C.G.,Durrell Wildlife Conservation Trust | Greenwood A.,International Zoo Veterinary Group | And 6 more authors.
Biological Conservation | Year: 2013

Threatened populations of birds are often restored after bottleneck events by using reintroduction techniques. Whilst population numbers are often increased by using such measures, the long-term genetic effects of reintroductions and post-release management of the resulting populations are frequently overlooked. We identify an overall declining trend in population-wide estimates of genetic diversity over two decades since the initial recovery of the population from the most severe part of this species' bottleneck. Additionally, by incorporating the genotypes of known founding individuals into population viability simulations, we evaluate the genetic effects of population management under various scenarios at both the metapopulation and subpopulation levels. We reveal that whilst population augmentation has led to increased genetic homogenisation among subpopulations, significant differentiation still exists. Simulations predict that even with a low level of natural dispersal leading to gene-flow this differentiation could be ameliorated. We conclude by offering a number of key recommendations relating to post-recovery management of reintroduced bird populations which support the encouragement of individual dispersal using established management techniques such as artificial nest-site provisioning. © 2013 Elsevier Ltd. Source

Raisin C.,University of Kent | Raisin C.,University of Sheffield | Frantz A.C.,University of Sheffield | Kundu S.,University College London | And 4 more authors.
Conservation Genetics | Year: 2012

For conservation managers tasked with recovering threatened species, genetic structure can exacerbate the rate of loss of genetic diversity because alleles unique to a sub-population are more likely to be lost by the effects of random genetic drift than if a population is panmictic. Given that intensive management techniques commonly used to recover threatened species frequently involve movement of individuals within and between populations, managers need to be aware not only of pre-existing levels of genetic structure but also of the potential effects that intensive management might have on these patterns. The Mauritius parakeet (Psittacula echo) has been the subject of an intensive conservation programme, involving translocation and reintroduction that has recovered the population from less than 20 individuals in 1987 to approximately 500 in 2010. Analysis of genotype data derived from 18 microsatellite markers developed for this species reveals a clear signal of structure in the population before intensive management began, but which subsequently disappears following management intervention. This study illustrates the impacts that conservation management can have on the genetic structure of an island endemic population and demonstrates how translocations or reintroductions can benefit populations of endangered species by reducing the risk of loss of genetic diversity. © 2012 Springer Science+Business Media B.V. Source

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