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W.H. Edwards

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Every winter, government agencies feed ???6000 metric tons (6 ?? 106 kg) of hay to elk in the southern Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem (GYE) to limit transmission of Brucella abortus, the causative agent of brucellosis, from elk to cattle. Supplemental feeding, however, is likely to increase the transmission of brucellosis in elk, and may be affected by climatic factors, such as snowpack. We assessed these possibilities using snowpack and feeding data from 1952 to 2006 and disease testing data from 1993 to 2006. Brucellosis seroprevalence was strongly correlated with the timing of the feeding season. Longer feeding seasons were associated with higher seroprevalence, but elk population size and density had only minor...
Categories: Publication; Types: Citation; Tags: Ecological Applications
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While many wildlife species are threatened, some populations have recovered from previous overexploitation, and data linking these population increases with disease dynamics are limited. We present data suggesting that free-ranging elk (Cervus elaphus) are a maintenance host for Brucella abortus in new areas of the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem (GYE). Brucellosis seroprevalence in free-ranging elk increased from 0-7% in 1991-1992 to 8-20% in 2006-2007 in four of six herd units around the GYE. These levels of brucellosis are comparable to some herd units where elk are artificially aggregated on supplemental feeding grounds. There are several possible mechanisms for this increase that we evaluated using statistical...
Categories: Publication; Types: Citation; Tags: Ecological Applications
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Recruitment of burbot Lota lota in eastern Lake Erie, estimated by catches of age-4 burbot, was high during 1997–2001 and then abruptly declined to low levels during 2002–2007. The invasive round goby Neogobius melanostomus, a benthic species, was first collected in trawl assessments in eastern Lake Erie in 1999, and was first found in stomachs of burbot in 2001. By 2003, round goby became an important prey in the diet of burbot. We hypothesized that the combined effects of low recruitment and consumption of round goby would result in increased size-at-age in burbot. We reasoned that: (i) decreased competition for resources among juveniles should result in larger adults, and (ii) consumption of a benthic prey by...
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In 2015, the U.S. Geological Survey’s (USGS) Lake Erie Biological Station (LEBS) successfully completed large vessel surveys in all three of Lake Erie’s basins. Lake Erie Biological Station’s primary vessel surveys included the Western Basin Forage Fish Assessment and East Harbor Fish Community Assessment as well as contributing to the cooperative multi-agency Central Basin Hydroacoustics Assessment, the Eastern Basin Coldwater Community Assessment, and Lower Trophic Level Assessment (see Forage and Coldwater Task Group reports). In 2015, LEBS also initiated a Lake Erie Central Basin Trawling survey in response to the need for forage fish data from Management Unit 3 (as defined by the Yellow Perch Task Group). Results...
Categories: Publication; Types: Citation
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Serological data are one of the primary sources of information for disease monitoring in wildlife. However, the duration of the seropositive status of exposed individuals is almost always unknown for many free-ranging host species. Directly estimating rates of antibody loss typically requires difficult longitudinal sampling of individuals following seroconversion. Instead, we propose a Bayesian statistical approach linking age and serological data to a mechanistic epidemiological model to infer brucellosis infection, the probability of antibody loss, and recovery rates of elk (Cervus canadensis) in the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem. We found that seroprevalence declined above the age of ten, with no evidence of...
Categories: Publication; Types: Citation; Tags: EcoHealth
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