Climatically driven synchrony of gerbil populations allows large-scale plague outbreaks

Kausrud, K, Viljugrein, H, Frigessi, A, Begon, M, Davis, S, Leirs, H, Dubyanskiy, V and Stenseth, N 2007, 'Climatically driven synchrony of gerbil populations allows large-scale plague outbreaks', Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences, vol. 274, no. 1621, pp. 1963-1969.


Document type: Journal Article
Collection: Journal Articles

Title Climatically driven synchrony of gerbil populations allows large-scale plague outbreaks
Author(s) Kausrud, K
Viljugrein, H
Frigessi, A
Begon, M
Davis, S
Leirs, H
Dubyanskiy, V
Stenseth, N
Year 2007
Journal name Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences
Volume number 274
Issue number 1621
Start page 1963
End page 1969
Total pages 7
Publisher The Royal Society Publishing
Abstract In central Asia, the great gerbil (Rhombomys opimus) is the main host for the bacterium Yersinia pestis, the cause of bubonic plague. In order to prevent plague outbreaks, monitoring of the great gerbil has been carried out in Kazakhstan since the late 1940s. We use the resulting data to demonstrate that climate forcing synchronizes the dynamics of gerbils over large geographical areas. As it is known that gerbil densities need to exceed a threshold level for plague to persist, synchrony in gerbil abundance across large geographical areas is likely to be a condition for plague outbreaks at similar large scales. Here, we substantiate this proposition through autoregressive modelling involving the normalized differentiated vegetation index as a forcing covariate. Based upon predicted climate changes, our study suggests that during the next century, plague epizootics may become more frequent in central Asia.
Keyword(s) Black death
Central Asia
Climate change
Moran effect
Normalized differentiated vegetation index
Yersinia pestis
DOI - identifier 10.1098/rspb.2007.0568
Copyright notice © 2007 The Royal Society.
ISSN 0962-8436
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