Oral Presentation 64th International Conference of the Wildlife Disease Association 2015

Geoscape:  A new technique to track potential zoonotic disease sources in wild birds (#72)

Charles van Riper III 1
  1. US Geological Survey, Tucson, AZ, United States

The small size of birds has made it difficult to track their movements, particularly the smaller passerine groups.  This has prevented wildlife disease workers from being able to pinpoint source locations from where diseased birds have originated.  When birds produce their feathers, a permanent signature of elements that exist at that location is incorporated into the feather.  That signature will be carried in the feather until molted by the bird.  By understanding molt patterns, researchers can utilize stable hydrogen and heavy metal isotopes in feathers to more accurately determine locations of feather production.  Information from Geoscape can be used in the future to allow wildlife disease workers to more accurately track sources of avian zoonotic disease outbreaks.  This information can also provide a benefit of substantiating where concentrated metal deposits occur over the earth’s surface.  Proof of concept for the “Geoscape” technique will be provided from passerine bird studies conducted across western North America.