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Application of genetics and genomics to wildlife epidemiology

February 27, 2017

Wildlife diseases can have significant impacts on wildlife conservation and management. Many
of the pathogens that affect wildlife also have important implications for domestic animal and human health.
However, management interventions to prevent or control wildlife disease are hampered by uncertainties
about the complex interactions between pathogens and free-ranging wildlife. We often lack crucial
knowledge about host ecology, pathogen characteristics, and host–pathogen dynamics. The purpose of this
review is to familiarize wildlife biologists and managers with the application of genetic and genomic
methodologies for investigating pathogen and host biology to better understand and manage wildlife
diseases. The genesis of this review was a symposium at the 2013 annual Wildlife Society Conference.
We reviewed the scientific literature and used our personal experiences to identify studies that illustrate
the application of genetic and genomic methods to advance our understanding of wildlife epidemiology,
focusing on recent research, new techniques, and innovative approaches. Using examples from a variety of
pathogen types and a broad array of vertebrate taxa, we describe how genetics and genomics can provide tools
to detect and characterize pathogens, uncover routes of disease transmission and spread, shed light on the
ways that disease susceptibility is influenced by both host and pathogen attributes, and elucidate the impacts
of disease on wildlife populations. Genetic and increasingly genomic methodologies will continue to
contribute important insights into pathogen and host biology that will aid efforts to assess and mitigate the
impacts of wildlife diseases on global health and conservation of biodiversity.

Citation Information

Publication Year 2016
Title Application of genetics and genomics to wildlife epidemiology
DOI 10.1002/jwmg.1064
Authors Julie A. Blanchong, Stacie J. Robinson, Michael D. Samuel, Jeffery T Foster
Publication Type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Series Title Journal of Wildlife Management
Series Number
Index ID 70182749
Record Source USGS Publications Warehouse
USGS Organization Coop Res Unit Leetown