Wildlife Unit

Inverness, United Kingdom

Wildlife Unit

Inverness, United Kingdom
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Miguel E.,Integrate | Miguel E.,CNRS Biometry and Evolutionary Biology Laboratory | Miguel E.,CNRS Center of Evolutionary and Functional Ecology | Grosbois V.,Integrate | And 9 more authors.
Ecosphere | Year: 2013

Wildlife is a maintenance host for several significant livestock diseases. Interspecific pathogen transmission may occur in complex socio-ecological systems at wild-domestic interfaces that have so far been seldom studied. We investigated the relationship between the dynamics of foot and mouth disease (FMD) in vaccinated and unvaccinated cattle populations with respect to frequency of contacts with African buffalo at different buffalo-cattle interfaces. A total of 36 GPS collars were deployed on African buffalo (Syncerus caffer) and cattle (Bos taurus, Bos indicus) to assess contact patterns at the periphery of 3 protected areas in Zimbabwe. Simultaneously, a longitudinal survey of 300 cattle with five repeated sampling sessions on known individuals during 16 months was undertaken. Immunological assays (ELISAs), that allowed tracking the production of antibodies following infection or vaccination, were used to assess serological transitions (i.e., incidence and reversion) in the surveyed cattle. Variation in rates of serological transitions across seasons, sites and as a function of the frequency of contact with buffalo was analyzed using generalized linear mixed models. The incidence in the cattle populations of FMD antibodies produced following infection varied among sites and as a function of contact rates with African buffalo. The incidence was higher for sites with higher contact rates between the two species. The serological incidence was also related to seasons, being higher during the dry or rainy seasons depending on sites. The reversion rate pattern was the opposite of this incidence rate pattern. Vaccination seemed partly efficient at the individual level, but it did not prevent the diffusion of FMD viruses from the wild reservoir host to the domestic cattle population. Furthermore, antibodies were detected in areas where cattle had not been vaccinated, suggesting that the virus may have spread without being detected in domestic populations. Access to resources shared by buffalo and livestock, particularly water and grazing areas during the dry season, could partly explain the observed patterns of FMD transmission. We discuss how insights on ecological processes leading to wildlife-livestock contacts may provide some innovative solutions to improve FMD management, including surveillance, prevention or control of buffalo-borne outbreaks, by adopting strategies targeting risky areas and periods. Copyright:© 2013 Miguel et a.

Foote A.D.,University of Aberdeen | Foote A.D.,Copenhagen University | Vilstrup J.T.,Copenhagen University | De Stephanis R.,Conservation Information and Research on Cetaceans | And 21 more authors.
Molecular Ecology | Year: 2011

Population genetic structure of North Atlantic killer whale samples was resolved from differences in allele frequencies of 17 microsatellite loci, mtDNA control region haplotype frequencies and for a subset of samples, using complete mitogenome sequences. Three significantly differentiated populations were identified. Differentiation based on microsatellite allele frequencies was greater between the two allopatric populations than between the two pairs of partially sympatric populations. Spatial clustering of individuals within each of these populations overlaps with the distribution of particular prey resources: herring, mackerel and tuna, which each population has been seen predating. Phylogenetic analyses using complete mitogenomes suggested two populations could have resulted from single founding events and subsequent matrilineal expansion. The third population, which was sampled at lower latitudes and lower density, consisted of maternal lineages from three highly divergent clades. Pairwise population differentiation was greater for estimates based on mtDNA control region haplotype frequencies than for estimates based on microsatellite allele frequencies, and there were no mitogenome haplotypes shared among populations. This suggests low or no female migration and that gene flow was primarily male mediated when populations spatially and temporally overlap. These results demonstrate that genetic differentiation can arise through resource specialization in the absence of physical barriers to gene flow. © 2010 Blackwell Publishing Ltd.

Monteiro S.,University of Minho | Monteiro S.,University of Aberdeen | Ferreira M.,University of Minho | Vingada J.V.,University of Minho | And 4 more authors.
Journal of Experimental Marine Biology and Ecology | Year: 2015

In order to improve our knowledge on the feeding ecology of long-finned pilot whales (Globicephala melas) in Northeast Atlantic waters, skin samples of 68 long-finned pilot whales stranded in Northwest Iberia (n=22) and Scotland (n=46) were analysed using stable isotopes of δ13C and δ15N. Isotopic mixing models were applied to obtain a quantitative estimate of the proportion of the main prey species in the diet of pilot whales. Stable isotope analysis revealed that 57.8-73.8% of the diet in Northwest Iberia consisted in curled octopus (Eledone cirrhosa), followed by European flying squid (Todarodes sagittatus), while in Scotland the predominant prey species was either Histioteuthis sp. or T. sagittatus, depending of the trophic enrichment factor applied. These results are generally in accordance with previous stomach content studies; however, the isotopic analysis may provide new information regarding key prey species and habitat use that could be missed or underestimated if only stomach contents analysis were used. Additionally, considering that the Atlantic Coast of Iberia was responsible for 95% of the landings of the main prey consumed by pilot whales in this area, between 2000 and 2010, these data provide trophic baseline information to be taken into account in fishery impact assessment studies and management decisions. © 2015 Elsevier B.V.

Santos M.B.,Spanish Institute of Oceanography | Monteiro S.S.,University of Minho | Vingada J.V.,University of Minho | Vingada J.V.,University of Aveiro | And 6 more authors.
Marine Mammal Science | Year: 2014

There is little previous information on feeding habits of long-finned pilot whales (Globicephala melas) in the northeast Atlantic. The present study analyzed stomach contents of pilot whales stranded in Portugal (n = 6), Galicia (northwest Spain) (n = 32), and Scotland (United Kingdom) (n = 10), from 1990 to 2011. These animals ranged from 213 to 555 cm in length (24 females, 19 males and 5 of unknown sex). The main prey identified were cephalopods of the families Octopodidae and Ommastrephidae, the former being numerically more important in Iberia (Portugal and Galicia) and the latter more important in Scotland, with Iberian whales also showing a more diverse diet. Multivariate analysis revealed evidence of geographical and seasonal variation in diet. Generalized Additive Modeling results indicated that more octopus (Eledone cirrhosa) were eaten in Iberia than in Scotland, more in the first half of the year, and more in larger whales. Numbers of ommastrephid squids in the stomach decreased over the study period and varied with season and whale length. This study confirms cephalopods as the main prey of pilot whales, as previously reported, although our results also suggest that, in the northeast Atlantic, ommastrephid squid are largely replaced as the main prey by octopods at lower latitudes. © 2013 by the Society for Marine Mammalogy.

Monteiro S.S.,University of Minho | Monteiro S.S.,University of Aveiro | Mendez-Fernandez P.,CNRS Coastal and Marine Environment Laboratory | Mendez-Fernandez P.,University of Sao Paulo | And 13 more authors.
Marine Ecology Progress Series | Year: 2015

Integration of ecological and genetic approaches is a particularly powerful strategy to identify natural population diversity and structure over different timescales. To investigate the potential occurrence of population differentiation in long-finned pilot whales Globicephala melas in the North Atlantic, both biogeochemical (fatty acids and stable isotopes) and genetic (mito - chondrial DNA) markers were analyzed in animals from 4 regions within the North Atlantic: the northwestern Iberian Peninsula, the United Kingdom, the Faroe Islands and the United States of America. Genetic data revealed strong regional levels of divergence, although analysis of molecular variance revealed no differentiation between the northeastern and northwestern Atlantic. Results from biogeochemical tracers supported previous dietary studies, revealing geographic and ontogenetic dietary variation in pilot whales. Fatty acids revealed ecological differentiation between all regions analyzed, while stable isotopes showed an overlap between some sampling regions. These results suggest that both ecological and genetic factors may drive the levels of pilot whale differentiation in the North Atlantic. The ecological differentiation observed may be related to the exploitation of different foraging niches (e.g. oceanic vs. coastal), which can be highly influenced by prey distributions or oceanographic phenomena. Genetic differentiation may result from historical or contemporary processes or even limited dispersal mediated through the social structure displayed by this species and potential foraging specialization. These results highlight some problems when assessing population structure across multiple markers and the ecological vs. evolutionary timescales over which differences may accumulate. Notwithstanding, the data provide preliminary information about pilot whale diversity and stocks in the North Atlantic, giving essential baseline information for conservation plans. Copyright © 2015 Inter-Research.

Monteiro S.S.,University of Minho | Vingada J.V.,University of Minho | Lopez A.,University of Aveiro | Pierce G.J.,University of Aveiro | And 11 more authors.
Marine Biology Research | Year: 2016

Determining how intra-specific genetic diversity is apportioned among natural populations is essential for detecting local adaptation and identifying populations with inherently low levels of extant diversity which may become a conservation concern. Sequence polymorphism at two adaptive loci (MHC DRA and DQB) was investigated in long-finned pilot whales (Globicephala melas) from four regions in the North Atlantic and compared with previous data from New Zealand (South Pacific). Three alleles were resolved at each locus, with trans-species allele sharing and higher levels of non-synonymous to synonymous substitution, especially in the DQB locus. Overall nucleotide diversities of 0.49 ± 0.38% and 4.60 ± 2.39% were identified for the DRA and DQB loci, respectively, which are relatively low for MHC loci in the North Atlantic, but comparable to levels previously described in New Zealand (South Pacific). There were significant differences in allele frequencies within the North Atlantic and between the North Atlantic and New Zealand. Patterns of diversity and divergence are consistent with the long-term effects of balancing selection operating on the MHC loci, potentially mediated through the effects of host-parasite coevolution. Differences in allele frequency may reflect variation in pathogen communities, coupled with the effects of differential drift and gene flow. © 2016 Informa UK Limited, trading as Taylor & Francis Group

News Article | November 2, 2015
Site: phys.org

The findings, published in the journal Science and Justice, could lead to wider use of fingerprinting methods in the field to more easily identify poachers in regions with high levels of ivory-related crime. Ivory has previously been considered a difficult material to obtain fingerprints from and such techniques have not been commonly used when illegally sourced ivory has been seized despite fingerprinting being one of the oldest, simplest and most cost-effective forensic tools. Ivory itself is a highly porous, ridged material and fingerprints enhanced with conventional powders have been largely ineffective as a result. This presents a significant challenge for police and forensic experts to develop the level of fingerprint detail required for an accurate identification. However in recent years, newer powder materials have emerged for fingerprinting. These are composed of smaller particles, which allow for more detail to be observed as they adhere better to smaller amounts of fingermark residue left behind. The latest study tested three types of powders on three seized elephant tusks loaned by the Metropolitan Police Service's Wildlife Unit. Those involved in the study compared two of the new powders to a more traditional powder using a variety of tests. The team found that the newer reduced-size powders were able to provide clearer, useable fingerprint detail that is vital for identifying the donor. Reduced size powders stuck more easily to remaining fingermark residues than the more traditional powders, despite the ridged and porous nature of the ivory surface. The clarity of ridge detail was found to be at its highest within seven days after the print was deposited, suggesting the method would work best in regions of the world that are closest to the sources of ivory. However, imaging and fingerprint experts were also able to lift some useable prints up to 28 days after they were deposited using the new powder. The researchers also showed its applicability to rhino ivory, hippo teeth and sperm whale teeth. Study author, Dr Leon Barron, a Senior Lecturer in Forensic Science in the Division of Analytical and Environmental Sciences at King's College London, said: 'This is the first time that fingerprinting on ivory has been thoroughly investigated and a practical solution offered. The only other study carried out over a decade ago simply showed that fingerprints were unstable and that the clarity of ridge detail was low making it difficult to make reliable identifications. Our study has shown for the first time that these newer powders could potentially be used for identifying poachers, and are especially suited to rangers working in the field.' Director of Forensic Services at the Metropolitan Police, Mr Gary Pugh OBE, said 'The concept for this work was originally devised by an imaging expert based on his experience at crime scenes. The application has been developed into a viable front line evidence recovery technique through our Strategic Alliance with King's College London. The equipment required to put this form of fingerprinting into practice is inexpensive and relatively easy to procure, making it a simple, cost-effective forensic tool to combat wildlife crime.' More information: Kelly A. Weston-Ford et al. The retrieval of fingerprint friction ridge detail from elephant ivory using reduced-scale magnetic and non-magnetic powdering materials, Science & Justice (2015). DOI: 10.1016/j.scijus.2015.10.003

Cheney B.,University of Aberdeen | Thompson P.M.,University of Aberdeen | Ingram S.N.,University of Aberdeen | Hammond P.S.,University of St. Andrews | And 20 more authors.
Mammal Review | Year: 2013

The distribution, movements and abundance of highly mobile marine species such as bottlenose dolphins Tursiops truncatus are best studied at large spatial scales, but previous research effort has generally been focused on relatively small areas, occupied by populations with high site fidelity. We aimed to characterize the distribution, movements and abundance of bottlenose dolphins around the coasts of Scotland, exploring how data from multiple sources could be integrated to build a broader-scale picture of their ecology. We reviewed existing historical data, integrated data from ongoing studies and developed new collaborative studies to describe distribution patterns. We adopted a Bayesian multi-site mark-recapture model to estimate abundance of bottlenose dolphins throughout Scottish coastal waters and quantified movements of individuals between study areas. The majority of sightings of bottlenose dolphins around the Scottish coastline are concentrated on the east and west coasts, but records are rare before the 1990s. Dedicated photo-identification studies in 2006 and 2007 were used to estimate the size of two resident populations: one on the east coast from the Moray Firth to Fife, population estimate 195 [95% highest posterior density intervals (HPDI): 162-253] and the second in the Hebrides, population estimate 45 (95% HPDI: 33-66). Interaction parameters demonstrated that the dolphins off the east coast of Scotland are highly mobile, whereas those off the west coast form two discrete communities. We provide the first comprehensive assessment of the abundance of bottlenose dolphins in the inshore waters of Scotland. The combination of dedicated photo-identification studies and opportunistic sightings suggest that a relatively small number of bottlenose dolphins (200-300 individuals) occur regularly in Scottish coastal waters. On both east and west coasts, re-sightings of identifiable individuals indicate that the animals have been using these coastal areas since studies began. © 2012 Mammal Society/Blackwell Publishing.

Lawrence J.A.,University of Pretoria | Foggin C.M.,Wildlife Unit | Prozesky L.,University of Pretoria
Journal of the South African Veterinary Association | Year: 2010

Three African buffalo (Syncerus caffer) that died after capture and translocation from Mutirikwe Recreational Park in southern Zimbabwe showed macroscopic and microscopic lesions of cardiomyopathy compatible with a diagnosis of gousiekte. The buffalo had had access to Pavetta schumanniana, a plant that is known to cause gousiekte. Death was attributed to cardiac failure as a result of previous consumption of the plant, exacerbated by the stress of translocation.

Dagleish M.P.,Moredun Research Institute | Stevenson K.,Moredun Research Institute | Foster G.,Wildlife Unit | McLuckie J.,Moredun Research Institute | And 4 more authors.
Journal of Comparative Pathology | Year: 2012

Equids are considered highly resistant to mycobacterial infections and clinical cases have been described in domestic horses only. Mycobacterium bovis is the most common species reported, although a single report exists of disease due to definitively diagnosed infection with Mycobacterium avium subsp. hominissuis in two domestic horses. This is the first report of a mycobacterial infection in a kiang (Equus kiang), or indeed any wild equid. The animal had chronic loss of condition and serum biochemical changes suggestive of liver disease and chronic infection. Further investigation showed a chronic granulomatous enteritis, lymphadenitis and hepatitis with focal granulomatous pneumonia due to systemic infection with M. avium subsp. hominissuis. The distribution and severity of the lesions suggested that the route of infection was alimentary. © 2011 Elsevier Ltd.

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