Social group size affects Mycobacterium bovis infection in European badgers (Meles meles)

Woodroffe, Rosie, Donnelly, Christl A., Wei, Gao, Cox, D. R., Bourne, F. John, Burke, Terry, Butlin, Roger K., Cheeseman, C. L., Gettinby, George, Gilks, Peter, Hedges, Simon, Jenkins, Helen E., Johnston, W. Thomas, McInerney, John P., Morrison, W. Ivan and Pope, Lisa C. (2009) Social group size affects Mycobacterium bovis infection in European badgers (Meles meles). Journal of Animal Ecology, 78 4: 818-827. doi:10.1111/j.1365-2656.2009.01545.x

Author Woodroffe, Rosie
Donnelly, Christl A.
Wei, Gao
Cox, D. R.
Bourne, F. John
Burke, Terry
Butlin, Roger K.
Cheeseman, C. L.
Gettinby, George
Gilks, Peter
Hedges, Simon
Jenkins, Helen E.
Johnston, W. Thomas
McInerney, John P.
Morrison, W. Ivan
Pope, Lisa C.
Title Social group size affects Mycobacterium bovis infection in European badgers (Meles meles)
Journal name Journal of Animal Ecology   Check publisher's open access policy
ISSN 0021-8790
Publication date 2009-07-01
Year available 2009
Sub-type Article (original research)
DOI 10.1111/j.1365-2656.2009.01545.x
Volume 78
Issue 4
Start page 818
End page 827
Total pages 10
Place of publication Chichester, West Sussex, United Kingdom
Publisher Wiley-Blackwell Publishing Ltd.
Language eng
Formatted abstract
1  In most social animals, the prevalence of directly transmitted pathogens increases in larger groups and at higher population densities. Such patterns are predicted by models of Mycobacterium bovis infection in European badgers (Meles meles).

2  We investigated the relationship between badger abundance and M. bovis prevalence, using data on 2696 adult badgers in 10 populations sampled at the start of the Randomized Badger Culling Trial.

3  M. bovis prevalence was consistently higher at low badger densities and in small social groups. M. bovis prevalence was also higher among badgers whose genetic profiles suggested that they had immigrated into their assigned social groups.

4  The association between high M. bovis prevalence and small badger group size appeared not to have been caused by previous small-scale culling in study areas, which had been suspended, on average, 5 years before the start of the current study.

5  The observed pattern of prevalence might occur through badgers in smaller groups interacting more frequently with members of neighbouring groups; detailed behavioural data are needed to test this hypothesis. Likewise, longitudinal data are needed to determine whether the size of infected groups might be suppressed by disease-related mortality.

6  Although M. bovis prevalence was lower at high population densities, the absolute number of infected badgers was higher. However, this does not necessarily mean that the risk of M. bovis transmission to cattle is highest at high badger densities, since transmission risk depends on badger behaviour as well as on badger density.
Keyword Bovine Tuberculosis
Cattle TB
Wildlife disease
Wildlife host
Q-Index Code C1
Q-Index Status Provisional Code
Institutional Status Non-UQ

Document type: Journal Article
Sub-type: Article (original research)
Collection: School of Biological Sciences Publications
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Citation counts: TR Web of Science Citation Count  Cited 26 times in Thomson Reuters Web of Science Article | Citations
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