Skip to main content
U.S. flag

An official website of the United States government

Migration strategy affects avian influenza dynamics in mallards (Anas platyrhynchos).

January 1, 2012

Studies of pathogen transmission typically overlook that wildlife hosts can include both migrant and resident populations when attempting to model circulation. Through the application of stable isotopes in flight feathers, we estimated the migration strategy of mallards (Anas platyrhynchos) occurring on California wintering grounds. Our study demonstrates that mallards- a principal host of avian influenza virus (AIV) in nature, contribute differently to virus gene flow depending on migration strategy. No difference in AIV prevalence was detected between resident (9.6%), intermediate-distance (9.6%) and long-distance migrants (7.4%). Viral diversity among the three groups was also comparable, possibly owing to viral pool mixing when birds converge at wetlands during winter. However, migrants and residents contributed differently to the virus gene pool at wintering wetlands. Migrants introduced virus from northern breeding grounds (Alaska and the NW Pacific Rim) into the wintering population, facilitating gene flow at continental scales, but circulation of imported virus appeared to be limited. In contrast, resident mallards acted as AIV reservoirs facilitating year-round circulation of limited subtypes (i.e. H5N2) at lower latitudes. This study supports a model of virus exchange in temperate regions driven by the convergence of wild birds with separate geographic origins and exposure histories.

Citation Information

Publication Year 2012
Title Migration strategy affects avian influenza dynamics in mallards (Anas platyrhynchos).
DOI 10.1111/j.1365-294X.2012.05735.x
Authors John Y. Takekawa, Nichola J. Hill, Joshua T. Ackerman, Garth Herring, Keith Hobson, Carol J. Cardona, Jonathan Runstadler, Walter M. Boyce
Publication Type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Series Title Molecular Ecology
Index ID 70042780
Record Source USGS Publications Warehouse
USGS Organization Western Ecological Research Center