Public Release: 

Tracking diseases by bait, plane, insects and fowl

Ecological Society of America

The 91st Ecological Society of America Annual Meeting will be held in Memphis, Tennessee, from August 6 -11, 2006. The theme of the meeting is "Icons and Upstarts in Ecology" and some 3,000 scientists are expected to attend. Below is a sampling of papers, focusing on diseases, which will be presented during the week. Other topics to be covered during the meeting include marine ecology, environmental justice, climate change, biogeochemistry, and invasive species.

Human-mediated spread of Amphibian Pathogens through the Tiger Salamander Bait Trade Monday, August 7, 8 - 11:30 AM Plantation Room, Cook Convention Center

Emerging infectious diseases are implicated in the declines of amphibians worldwide. One virus in particular, ranavirus, has been associated with die-offs in wild amphibian populations in North America, Europe, Australia, and South America, and in commercial populations in Asia. Researching the pathogens' movements through the tiger salamander bait trade in Arizona, Angela Picco (Arizona State University) found 62 percent of bait shops carried infected animals. Picco will discuss the findings during a contributed oral session on amphibian and reptile ecology and decline.

Pandemic Diseases and the Aviation Network Tuesday August 8, 1:30 - 5:00 PM, L-4, Cook Convention Center

Lars Hufnagel (University of California - Santa Barbara) and colleagues designed a method to track the spread of infectious diseases through the global aviation network. Focusing on international and national civil aviation traffic, the researchers incorporated the SARS (Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome) outbreaks, comparing their data with actual reported cases. Hufnagel and colleagues found good agreement between what the model suggested and what actually happened, suggesting their model can be used to help predict future worldwide spread of diseases and to identify high-risk regions in advance. Hufnagel will report on the full details of the research during Disease Ecology II: Viruses and Epidemics.

Invasive Mosquitoes, Competition, and Vector-borne Disease Wednesday August 9, 1:30 - 5:00 PM, Ballroom A, Cook Convention Center

Sarah Bevins (Colorado State University) studies the role an invasive species of mosquito (Aedes albopictus) may play in a geographic shift in the spread of the lacrosse virus (LAC) by affecting the native host mosquito. Centering mostly in the Midwestern United States, LAC is a leading cause of arboviral encephalitis in children. In the past decade however, the disease has started to shift towards the southeastern U.S. Traditionally carried by a native mosquito (Ochlerotatus triseriatus), research has shown nutritionally deprived mosquitoes to be more efficient transmitters of the disease. Bevins examined this relationship by placing larvae of both species of mosquitoes together to see what effect the invasive mosquitoes had on native mosquitoes. She will discuss her results at a contributed oral session on invasive species.

Wildlife Disease in Urbanized Landscapes: The Ecology of West Nile Virus and its Avian Reservoir Hosts Wednesday August 9, 1:30 - 5:00 PM, L-4, Cook Convention Center

Urban development alters the ecosystems of wildlife through changes in diversity, habitat fragmentation, changes in resources available, small-scale temperature changes created by the Urban Heat Island effect, and competition. These changes also affect the dynamics of infectious diseases in organisms. Spending a year studying the patterns of exposure of West Nile Virus in wild bird populations in the Atlanta, Georgia area, Catherine Bradley (University of Georgia - Athens) will present her results at a contributed oral session on disease ecology.

For more information about these sessions and other ESA Meeting activities, visit:


The Ecological Society of America (ESA) is a scientific, non-profit, 9500-member organization founded in 1915. Through ESA reports, journals, membership research, and expert testimony to Congress, ESA seeks to promote the responsible application of ecological data and principles to the solution of environmental problems. ESA publishes four scientific, peer-reviewed journals: Ecology, Ecological Applications, Ecological Monographs, and Frontiers in Ecology and the Environment. For more information about the Society visit

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