Diann Prosser, Ph.D.
Diann Prosser is a research wildlife ecologist at the USGS Patuxent Wildlife Research Center. She began working at Patuxent in 1999. Her background is in wetland ecology and ornithology and her research interests include using spatial modeling techniques to help answer questions related to wildlife and stressors such as climate change and disease.
- B.S. in Wildlife and Fisheries Science (1995) from the Pennsylvania State University
- M.S. in Ecology (1998) from the Pennsylvania State University
- Ph.D. (2012) from the University of Maryland’s Marine Estuarine Environmental Sciences interdisciplinary ecology program
- 2017 Presidential Early Career Award for Scientists and Engineers (PECASE)
- University of Maryland Goldhaber Travel Grant
- 2011 NSF SGER Grant
- 2007 NSF East Asia and Pacific Summer Institutes
- 2005 University of Maryland Nagel Travel Grant
- 2005 USGS, Patuxent Wildlife Research Center Star Award 2000
Recently Hosted Visiting Scientists from Chinese Academy of Sciences (2012-2013)
Science and Products
The Challenge: In December of 2014, a novel strain of highly pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI) caused an outbreak in poultry on the West coast of the United States. From there, the virus progressed steadily eastward, causing $3.3 billion in economic losses in addition to 50 million chickens or turkeys dying or being depopulated. While the primary mode of spread appears to be via the poultry system, wild birds have been detected with H5N8 asymptomatic infection, indicating the potential for virus spread via wild populations. The species involved and the extent of contribution of virus spread, however, are not known. As of June 2015, the new strains of HPAI have been detected in 3 of the 4 migratory flyways, with no positives yet in the Atlantic flyway; however little sampling has been conducted since the onset of the current HPAI situation.
In collaboration with USGS Alaska Science Center
The Challenge: The susceptibility and pathogenesis of highly pathogenic avian influenza virus (HPAI) has not been characterized in numerous duck species, especially diving ducks (genera Melanitta, Aythya, and Oxyura), some of which migrate across the continental US. The few studies available (on Tufted duck, Aythya fuligula) suggest that they may shed high amounts of virus, but it is unclear whether they have the capacity to spread HPAI long distances.
The Challenge: For several decades, the US Army Corps of Engineers, along with numerous state and federal partners, have been creating and restoring islands with dredged materials from navigation channels in the Bay. Natural resources management goals have guided restoration plans for these islands since the mid 1990’s. The USGS Patuxent Wildlife Research Center has been the only USGS science research presence on the large (1700 acres) Poplar Island restoration project; Patuxent has been monitoring wildlife populations effort since 2002. Six species of breeding waterbirds of “special concern” to the states and region have been studied as they have colonized the restored site. This island is now a key habitat for waterbirds because sea level rise and erosion have eliminated many potential nesting islands in the Bay.
The Challenge: Concern has been raised over productivity of two important tern species that have colonized Poplar Island Environmental Restoration Project (PIERP): the Maryland state-listed Least Tern (Sternula antillarum) and Common Tern (Sterna hirundo). Over the 14 year monitoring period at PIERP (beginning 2002), hatching and fledging success of these species has been variable, believed to be linked with natural stressors including avian and mammalian predators and severe weather events.
The Challenge: Climate change and sea level rise are expected to affect many miles of shoreline in the Chesapeake Bay and elsewhere along the Atlantic Coast in the coming years. In this scenario, federal and state agencies need to make more detailed assessments of how different watersheds and shoreline types might influence an array of ecosystem functions and components. Recently, most states are promoting “living shorelines” (soft engineering with marsh vegetation) rather than hardening methods (riprap or bulkheads) to cope with sea level rise and erosion. Not all methods can effectively be applied in all locations; therefore both field and modeling approaches are needed to determine how different shoreline types and watershed conditions influence water quality, submerged vegetation (SAV), and macrofauna, including top-level trophic waterbirds.
The Challenge: Disease risk modeling can be an important tool for identifying areas of high transmission risk within and between animal populations, allowing for strategic allocation of limited resources for disease surveillance and prevention. Acquiring a spatial understanding of the distributions of high risk populations is a critical first step in developing predictive disease transmission models. One such disease is highly pathogenic avian influenza, outbreaks of which have caused concern for both domestic and wild populations in the United States.
The Challenge: Changes in aquatic ecosystems related to climate change phenomena or other anthropogenically based environmental stressors have significant impact on the dynamics of the host-pathogen-environment relationship, often with surprising results. Therefore, biosurveillance of the aquatic environment for pathogens of significance to aquatic and terrestrial wildlife, as well as to domestic animals and humans, is a focus area of increasing importance in ecosystems science. The study of avian influenza viruses in the aquatic environment is a suitable model for such biosurveillance-based investigations as the pathogen is both persistent in many aquatic reservoirs and highly significant to wildlife, poultry, and human health.
In collaboration with Dr. Christine Densmore at USGS Leestown Science Center
The Challenge: Following outbreaks of highly pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI) in Eurasia, many researchers have attempted to determine how this virus spreads across the landscape. Unfortunately, prior to this work, most studies on HPAI movements were based on virology data alone, and no information on host ecology. Beginning in 2007, USGS Patuxent Wildlife Research Center (PWRC) and Western Ecological Research Center (WERC) developed a Wild Bird Avian Influenza Program to improve the scientific understanding of the role wild bird’s play in the circulation of highly pathogenic avian influenza.
In collaborations with Glenn Olsen at USGS Patuxent Wildlife Research Center, USGS Western Ecological Research Center & USGS Alaska science Center
The Challenge: Threats such as habitat loss, increased severity of storm events, and emerging diseases are affecting wildlife populations, with particular concern for threatened and migratory species. Surveys for measuring populations and breeding productivity for various species have been utilized for many years; however, they can be intrusive leading to aggressive behavior of adults or even abandonment of young or nests. We propose developing and testing local remote sensing technologies (primarily unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV), ie. drones) to increase efficiency and decrease disturbance in surveying breeding waterbird populations. This technology will allow us to scan for nests, count eggs, and search for chicks hidden in vegetation without physically entering nesting colonies. Some of the many benefits of using a remote sensing system include less disturbance to fragile habitats, a reduced risk to the scientists collecting data, a more timely and efficient way to collect data, and reduced overall project costs. These drones can also be equipped with advanced sensors to collect other types of data; something that PWRC plans on utilizing in the near future.
The Challenge: A number of coastal states have been altering marshes for mosquito control since the early 1900s, but for the past four decades, changes have been made in the methods used to alter high-marsh environments. However, in most states, research and monitoring activities are still needed to inform the management methods employed. Although modern Open Marsh Water Management (OMWM) methods, including pond and radial ditch creation, have reduced mosquito populations in most areas, questions remain about the overall ecosystem impacts of these alterations.
The Challenge: Highly pathogenic avian influenza viruses (HPAI) of certain subtypes primarily infect poultry, causing disease outbreaks and negative socio-economic impacts on poultry farming depending on the characteristics of biosecurity and the virus strain. HPAI viruses seem to be adapted to artificial ecosystems including poultry farming, free-ranging duck production, and live bird markets, rather than to natural ecosystems. Although detailed knowledge of the agro-ecological conditions associated with HPAI is still limited, the live bird trade is currently known to be a major pathway for its spread. The Asia-Pacific region has been regarded as an epicenter of new emerging infectious diseases due to the high density of human populations, and the increasing agriculture and livestock production with varying biosecurity levels and integration with human living space.
Standardization and Application of an Index of Community Integrity for Waterbirds in the Chesapeake Bay
This data set is comprised of five files related to the modification and scoring of Index of Waterbird Community Integrity (IWCI) scores for all waterbirds of the Chesapeake Bay. One Excel file (A) contains a list of 100+ Chesapeake waterbird species and their species attribute and IWCI scores.
Low-pathogenic avian influenza viruses in wild migratory waterfowl in a region of high poultry production, Delmarva, Maryland
This data set is comprised of four files related to the biosurveillance of low pathogenic avian influenza viruses (LPAIV) in migratory waterfowl at 22 locations in the Maryland portion of the Delmarva Peninsula in fall/winter of 2013-2014.
Species distribution modeling in regions of high need and limited data: waterfowl of China
BackgroundA number of conservation and societal issues require understanding how species are distributed on the landscape, yet ecologists are often faced with a lack of data to develop models at the resolution and extent desired, resulting in inefficient use of conservation resources. Such a situation presented itself in our attempt to develop...Prosser, Diann J.; Ding, Changqing; Erwin, R. Michael; Mundkur, Taej; Sullivan, Jeffery D.; Ellis, Erle C.
High altitude flights by ruddy shelduck Tadorna ferruginea during trans-Himalayan migrations
Birds that migrate across high altitude mountain ranges are faced with the challenge of maintaining vigorous exercise in environments with limited oxygen. Ruddy shelducks are known to use wintering grounds south of the Tibetan Plateau at sea level and breeding grounds north of Himalayan mountain range. Therefore, it is likely these shelducks are...Parr, N.; Bearhop, S.; Douglas, David C.; Takekawa, J.Y.; Prosser, Diann J.; Newman, S.H.; Perry, W.M.; Balachandran, S.; Witt, M.J.; Hou, Y.; Luo, Z.; Hawkes, L.A.
Surveillance for highly pathogenic influenza A viruses in California during 2014–2015 provides insights into viral evolutionary pathways and the spatiotemporal extent of viruses in the Pacific Americas Flyway
We used surveillance data collected in California before, concurrent with, and subsequent to an outbreak of highly pathogenic (HP) clade 188.8.131.52 influenza A viruses (IAVs) in 2014–2015 to (i) evaluate IAV prevalence in waterfowl, (ii) assess the evidence for spill-over infections in marine mammals and (iii) genetically characterize low-pathogenic...Ramey, Andy M.; Hill, Nichola J.; Cline, Troy; Plancarte, Magdalena; De La Cruz, Susan; Casazza, Michael L.; Ackerman, Joshua T.; Fleskes, Joseph; Vickers, T. Winston; Reeves, Andrew; Gulland, Frances; Fontaine, Christine; Prosser, Diann J.; Runstadler, Jonathan; Boyce, Walter M.
Standardization and application of an index of community integrity for waterbirds in the Chesapeake Bay, USA
In recent decades, there has been increasing interest in the application of ecological indices to assess ecosystem condition in response to anthropogenic activities. An Index of Waterbird Community Integrity was previously developed for the Chesapeake Bay, USA. However, the scoring criteria were not defined well enough to generate scores for new...Prosser, Diann J.; Nagel, Jessica L.; Marban, Paul; Ze, Luo; Day, Daniel D.; Erwin, R. Michael
Himalayan thoroughfare: Migratory routes of ducks over the rooftop of the world
No abstract available.Prins, H.H.T.; Namgail, Tsewang; Namgail, Tsewang; Takekawa, John Y.; Balachandran, Sivananinthaperumal; Palm, Eric C.; Mundkur, Taej; Velez, Victor Martin; Prosser, Diann J.; Newman, Scott H.
Low pathogenic avian influenza viruses in wild migratory waterfowl in a region of high poultry production, Delmarva, Maryland
Migratory waterfowl are natural reservoirs for low pathogenic avian influenza viruses (AIVs) and may contribute to the long-distance dispersal of these pathogens as well as spillover into domestic bird populations. Surveillance for AIVs is critical to assessing risks for potential spread of these viruses among wild and domestic bird populations....Prosser, Diann J.; Densmore, Christine L.; Hindman, Larry J.; Iwanowicz, Deborah; Ottinger, Christopher A.; Iwanowicz, Luke R. ; Driscoll, Cindy P.; Nagel, Jessica L.
Chewing lice of swan geese (Anser cygnoides): New host-parasite associations
Chewing lice (Phthiraptera) that parasitize the globally threatened swan goose Anser cygnoides have been long recognized since the early 19th century, but those records were probably biased towards sampling of captive or domestic geese due to the small population size and limited distribution of its wild hosts. To better understand the...Choi, Chang-Yong; Takekawa, John Y.; Prosser, Diann J.; Smith, Lacy M.; Ely, Craig R.; Fox, Anthony D.; Cao, Lei; Wang, Xin; Batbayar, Nyambayar; Natsagdorj, Tseveenmayadag; Xiao, Xiangming
Low survival rates of Swan Geese (Anser cygnoides) estimated from neck-collar resighting and telemetry
Waterbird survival rates are a key component of demographic modeling used for effective conservation of long-lived threatened species. The Swan Goose (Anser cygnoides) is globally threatened and the most vulnerable goose species endemic to East Asia due to its small and rapidly declining population. To address a current knowledge gap in...Choi, Chang-Yong; Lee, Ki-Sup; Poyarkov, Nikolay D.; Park, Jin-Young; Lee, Hansoo; Takekawa, John Y.; Smith, Lacy M.; Ely, Craig R.; Wang, Xin; Cao, Lei; Fox, Anthony D.; Goroshko, Oleg; Batbayar, Nyambayar; Prosser, Diann J.; Xiao, Xiangming
U.S. Geological Survey science strategy for highly pathogenic avian influenza in wildlife and the environment (2016–2020)
IntroductionThrough the Science Strategy for Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza (HPAI) in Wildlife and the Environment, the USGS will assess avian influenza (AI) dynamics in an ecological context to inform decisions made by resource managers and policymakers from the local to national level. Through collection of unbiased scientific information on...Harris, M. Camille; Pearce, John M.; Prosser, Diann J.; White, C. LeAnn; Miles, A. Keith; Sleeman, Jonathan M.; Brand, Christopher J.; Cronin, James P.; De La Cruz, Susan; Densmore, Christine L.; Doyle, Thomas W.; Dusek, Robert J.; Fleskes, Joseph P.; Flint, Paul L.; Guala, Gerald F.; Hall, Jeffrey S.; Hubbard, Laura E.; Hunt, Randall J.; Ip, Hon S.; Katz, Rachel A.; Laurent, Kevin W.; Miller, Mark P.; Munn, Mark D.; Ramey, Andy M.; Richards, Kevin D.; Russell, Robin E.; Stokdyk, Joel P.; Takekawa, John Y.; Walsh, Daniel P.
Spatial modeling of wild bird risk factors to investigate highly pathogenic A(H5N1) avian influenza virus transmission
One of the longest-persisting avian influenza viruses in history, highly pathogenic avian influenza virus (HPAIV) A(H5N1), continues to evolve after 18 years, advancing the threat of a global pandemic. Wild waterfowl (family Anatidae), are reported as secondary transmitters of HPAIV, and primary reservoirs for low-pathogenic avian influenza...Prosser, Diann J.; Hungerford, Laura L.; Erwin, R. Michael; Ottinger, Mary Ann; Takekawa, John Y.; Newman, Scott H.; Xiao, Xianming; Ellis, Erie C.
A new method for discovering behavior patterns among animal movements
Advanced satellite tracking technologies enable biologists to track animal movements at fine spatial and temporal scales. The resultant data present opportunities and challenges for understanding animal behavioral mechanisms. In this paper, we develop a new method to elucidate animal movement patterns from tracking data. Here, we propose the...Wang, Y.; Luo, Ze; Takekawa, John Y.; Prosser, Diann J.; Xiong, Y.; Newman, S.; Xiao, X.; Batbayar, N.; Spragens, Kyle A.; Balachandran, S.; Yan, B.
Discovering loose group movement patterns from animal trajectories
The technical advances of positioning technologies enable us to track animal movements at finer spatial and temporal scales, and further help to discover a variety of complex interactive relationships. In this paper, considering the loose gathering characteristics of the real-life groups' members during the movements, we propose two kinds of loose...Wang, Yuwei; Luo, Ze; Xiong, Yan; Prosser, Diann J.; Newman, Scott H.; Takekawa, John Y.; Yan, Baoping
Scientists investigate the impacts of shoreline armoring
Due to the global threat to health and human safety posed by avian influenza monitoring has been conducted in the United States to determine the prevalence of such viruses in our wild waterfowl.