Empirical assessment of a threshold model for sylvatic plague

Davis, S, Leirs, H, Viljugrein, H, Stenseth, N, De Bruyn, L, Klassovskiy, N, Ageyev, V and Begon, M 2007, 'Empirical assessment of a threshold model for sylvatic plague', Journal of the Royal Society. Interface, vol. 4, no. 15, pp. 649-657.


Document type: Journal Article
Collection: Journal Articles

Title Empirical assessment of a threshold model for sylvatic plague
Author(s) Davis, S
Leirs, H
Viljugrein, H
Stenseth, N
De Bruyn, L
Klassovskiy, N
Ageyev, V
Begon, M
Year 2007
Journal name Journal of the Royal Society. Interface
Volume number 4
Issue number 15
Start page 649
End page 657
Total pages 9
Publisher The Royal Society Publishing
Abstract Plague surveillance programmes established in Kazakhstan, Central Asia, during the previous century, have generated large plague archives that have been used to parameterize an abundance threshold model for sylvatic plague in great gerbil (Rhombomys opimus) populations. Here, we assess the model using additional data from the same archives. Throughout the focus, population levels above the threshold were a necessary condition for an epizootic to occur. However, there were large numbers of occasions when an epizootic was not observed even though great gerbils were, and had been, abundant. We examine six hypotheses that could explain the resulting false positive predictions, namely (i) including end-of-outbreak data erroneously lowers the estimated threshold, (ii) too few gerbils were tested, (iii) plague becomes locally extinct, (iv) the abundance of fleas was too low, (v) the climate was unfavourable, and (vi) a high proportion of gerbils were resistant. Of these, separate thresholds, fleas and climate received some support but accounted for few false positives and can be disregarded as serious omissions from the model. Small sample size and local extinction received strong support and can account for most of the false positives. Host resistance received no support here but should be subject to more direct experimental testing.
Keyword(s) Abundance threshold
Fade out
Invasion
Mathematical model
Vector-borne disease
Yersinia pestis
DOI - identifier 10.1098/rsif.2006.0208
Copyright notice © 2007 The Royal Society.
ISSN 1742-5689
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