Investigating the effects of age-related spatial structuring on the transmission of a tick-borne virus in a colonially breeding host

Wanelik, Klara M.; Burthe, Sarah J.; Harris, Mike P.; Nunn, Miles A.; Godfray, H. Charles J.; Sheldon, Ben C.; McLean, Angela R.; Wanless, Sarah. 2017 Investigating the effects of age-related spatial structuring on the transmission of a tick-borne virus in a colonially breeding host. Ecology and Evolution, 7 (24). 10930-10940.

Before downloading, please read NORA policies.
N518337JA.pdf - Published Version
Available under License Creative Commons Attribution 4.0.

Download (767kB) | Preview


Higher pathogen and parasite transmission is considered a universal cost of colonial breeding due to the physical proximity of colony members. However, this has rarely been tested in natural colonies, which are structured entities, whose members interact with a subset of individuals and differ in their infection histories. We use a population of common guillemots, Uria aalge, infected by a tick-borne virus, Great Island virus, to explore how age-related spatial structuring can influence the infection costs borne by different members of a breeding colony. Previous work has shown that the per-susceptible risk of infection (force of infection) is different for prebreeding (immature) and breeding (adult) guillemots which occupy different areas of the colony. We developed a mathematical model which showed that this difference in infection risk can only be maintained if mixing between these age groups is low. To estimate mixing between age groups, we recorded the movements of 63 individually recognizable, prebreeding guillemots in four different parts of a major colony in the North Sea during the breeding season. Prebreeding guillemots infrequently entered breeding areas (in only 26% of watches), though with marked differences in frequency of entry among individuals and more entries toward the end of the breeding season. Once entered, the proportion of time spent in breeding areas by prebreeding guillemots also varied between different parts of the colony. Our data and model predictions indicate low levels of age-group mixing, limiting exposure of breeding guillemots to infection. However, they also suggest that prebreeding guillemots have the potential to play an important role in driving infection dynamics. This highlights the sensitivity of breeding colonies to changes in the behavior of their members—a subject of particular importance in the context of global environmental change.

Item Type: Publication - Article
Digital Object Identifier (DOI):
UKCEH and CEH Sections/Science Areas: Unaffiliated
Biodiversity (Science Area 2017-)
UKCEH Fellows
ISSN: 2045-7758
Additional Information. Not used in RCUK Gateway to Research.: Open Access paper - full text available via Official URL link.
Additional Keywords: coloniality, environmental change, orbivirus, seabird, vector-borne virus
NORA Subject Terms: Biology and Microbiology
Date made live: 16 Nov 2017 12:43 +0 (UTC)

Actions (login required)

View Item View Item

Document Downloads

Downloads for past 30 days

Downloads per month over past year

More statistics for this item...