Ecological Associations of West Nile Virus and Avian Hosts in an Arid Environment

Holly B. Vuong, Donald F. Caccamise, Marta Remmenga and Rebecca Creamer

in Emerging Avian Disease

Published by University of California Press

Published in print April 2012 | ISBN: 9780520272378
Published online September 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780520952201 | DOI:
Ecological Associations of West Nile Virus and Avian Hosts in an Arid Environment

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We evaluated disease associations of West Nile virus (WNV) with avian hosts in four key habitats of southern New Mexico (agriculture, desert, riparian, and urban). Our goal was to examine the role of avian life history traits in transmission of WNV and to evaluate possible mechanisms to explain differences in seroprevalence among avian communities. Seroprevalence was highest in Summer Tanagers (Piranga rubra, 39%) and American Robins (Turdus migratorius, 33%). Serosurveys of bird communities indicated differences among habitats, age, and resident status. Urban and agricultural habitats had higher seroprevalence than desert and riparian habitats. After-hatch-year birds had higher seroprevalence than hatch-year birds. Seroprevalence in permanent resident and local breeding species were higher than migrants and winter residents. Males had higher seroprevalence in 2004, while females were higher in 2005. Analyses among communities indicated negative relationships between seroprevalence and avian species diversity and richness. Desert and riparian habitats had higher diversity and lower seroprevalence compared to urban and agriculture. This study revealed associations between WNV and avian life history traits, providing insights into mechanisms of transmission in the arid Southwest. In addition, we found relationships between complexity of avian host communities (e.g., species diversity, species richness) and patterns in seroprevalence of WNV in avian host species.

Keywords: avian community; desert, habitat; life history; seroprevalence; southern New Mexico; West Nile virus; WNV

Chapter.  9196 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Vertebrates

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