Ecological Implications of Bovine Tuberculosis in African Buffalo Herds

Ecological Implications of Bovine Tuberculosis in African Buffalo Herds

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1338 Ecological Applications, 13(5), 2003, pp. 1338–1345 q 2003 by the Ecological Society of America ECOLOGICAL IMPLICATIONS OF BOVINE TUBERCULOSIS IN AFRICAN BUFFALO HERDS A LEX CARON, 1 P AUL C. CROSS, 1,2 AND JOHAN T. DU TOIT 1,3 1 Mammal Research Institute, Department of Zoology and Entomology, University of Pretoria, Pretoria 2002, South Africa 2 Department of Environmental Science, Policy and Management, University of California 201 Wellman Hall no. 3112, Berkeley, California 94720-3112 USA Abstract. Following the recent invasion of bovine tuberculosis (BTB) into the Kruger National Park, South Africa, we conducted a study on the maintenance host, African buffalo, to investigate associations between BTB prevalence and calf:cow ratio, age structure, body condition, and endoparasite load. Statistical analyses compared herds of zero, medium (1– 40%), and high ( . 40%) BTB prevalence. To control for ecological variation across the park we collected data in northern, central, and southern regions and restricted some analyses to particular regions of the park. Body condition declined over the course of the 2001 dry season, and buffaloes in the southern region of the park, with the highest BTB prevalence, were in worse condition than buffaloes in the northern region (which receives less annual rainfall but is still virtually BTB-free). Herd-level analyses of the entire park, the south and central regions, and just the southern region all indicated that herds of higher BTB prevalence were in worse condition and lost condition faster through the dry season than herds of lower BTB prevalence. Fecal endoparasite egg counts increased during the dry season and were associated with both decreased body condition and increased BTB prev- alence. Although we did not detect any obvious effect of BTB on the age structure of the buffalo population, our findings indicate early symptoms of wider scale BTB-related eco- logical disturbances: buffalo herds with high BTB prevalence appear more vulnerable to drought (because of a decrease in body condition and an increase in endoparasite load), and because lions selectively kill weak buffaloes their prey base is accumulating a dispro- portionately high prevalence of BTB, to which lions are susceptible. Key words: body condition; bovine tuberculosis; endoparasites; Kruger National Park; Myco- bacterium bovis; Syncerus caffer; South Africa; wildlife disease. I NTRODUCTION Understanding the dynamics of African savannas over the past century requires an understanding of the effects of cattleborne diseases on indigenous ungulates. For example, the rinderpest pandemic of the 1890s trig- gered a succession of ecological disturbances that re- verberated across the continent and have yet to equil- ibrate even in large national parks such as Serengeti in Tanzania (Sinclair 1979), Chobe in Botswana (Walk- er 1989, Mosugelo et al. 2002), and Kruger in South Africa (Bengis et al. 2003). With rinderpest the course of the disease through populations and its spread across species were inferred post hoc from anecdotal records.
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This note was uploaded on 10/14/2010 for the course DDF 1124-445 taught by Professor Gorthermclays during the Spring '10 term at Florida College.

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Ecological Implications of Bovine Tuberculosis in African Buffalo Herds

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