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Selective predation on hantavirus-infected voles by owls and confounding effects from landscape properties
Umeå University, Faculty of Medicine, Department of Clinical Microbiology, Virology. (Arcum)
2016 (English)In: Oecologia, ISSN 0029-8549, E-ISSN 1432-1939, Vol. 181, no 2, 597-606 p.Article in journal (Refereed) PublishedText
Abstract [en]

It has been suggested that predators may protect human health through reducing disease-host densities or selectively preying on infected individuals from the population. However, this has not been tested empirically. We hypothesized that Tengmalm's owl (Aegolius funereus) selectively preys on hantavirus-infected individuals of its staple prey, the bank vole (Myodes glareolus). Bank voles are hosts of Puumala hantavirus, which causes a form of hemorrhagic fever in humans. Selective predation by owls on infected voles may reduce human disease risk. We compared the prevalence of anti-Puumala hantavirus antibodies (seroprevalence), in bank voles cached by owls in nest boxes to seroprevalence in voles trapped in closed-canopy forest around each nest box. We found no general difference in seroprevalence. Forest landscape structure could partly account for the observed patterns in seroprevalence. Only in more connected forest patches was seroprevalence in bank voles cached in nest boxes higher than seroprevalence in trapped voles. This effect disappeared with increasing forest patch isolation, as seroprevalence in trapped voles increased with forest patch isolation, but did not in cached voles. Our results suggest a complex relationship between zoonotic disease prevalence in hosts, their predators, and landscape structure. Some mechanisms that may have caused the seroprevalence patterns in our results include higher bank vole density in isolated forest patches. This study offers future research potential to shed further light on the contribution of predators and landscape properties to human health.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2016. Vol. 181, no 2, 597-606 p.
Keyword [en]
Zoonosis, Disease ecology, Disease host, Human health, Puumala virus
National Category
URN: urn:nbn:se:umu:diva-123363DOI: 10.1007/s00442-016-3580-yISI: 000376296000024PubMedID: 26873607OAI: diva2:946338
Available from: 2016-07-05 Created: 2016-07-01 Last updated: 2016-08-12Bibliographically approved

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Evander, Magnus
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