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Monitoring Plague Natural Foci


Estimating Ecosystem Dynamics as a Basis for Monitoring Plaque Natural Focies

Tech Area / Field

  • MED-DIS/Disease Surveillance/Medicine

8 Project completed

Registration date

Completion date

Senior Project Manager
Gremyakova T A

Leading Institute
Russian Academy of Sciences / Severtsov Institute of Ecology and Evolution, Russia, Moscow


  • Carnegie Museam of Natural History, USA, PA, Rector

Project summary

The main goal of the project is to reveal the role of structure and dynamics of rodent populations and communities as factors influencing intensity of epizootic process. The project suggests local studies within few key sites based on specific population methods (inpidual marking, manipulations of population density, detailed description of vegetation structure, etc.) providing quantitative information later put in database and used to create multi-layered geo-information systems (GIS).

The objectives of the study are as follows:

1) to reveal species-specific space distribution patterns;
2) to reveal intensity and nature of interspecific relationships and its seasonal and annual dynamics and influence on exchange of parasites;
3) to study space distribution of hosts and space structure of community in relation to status and dynamics of vegetation cover under varying human impact;
4) to reveal modern trends of vegetation and rodent community structure development.

The project suggests obtaining data on species composition, population density, age-sex and space structure of host communities, seasonal migration rates and interspecific contacts. The vegetation cover in key habitats will be mapped and dynamic rows of vegetation succession will be constructed and then used for analyzing modern trends of ecosystem development. Finally dynamics and spatial organization of model populations and communities of rodent species under the varying human impact on habitats will be revealed. Obtained data in combination with large-scale data of plague control system will provide basis for developing modem concept of studying and monitoring plague epizootics under varying conditions of disturbed landscapes and ecosystems.

The project team possesses data on population dynamics of key rodent species in this region obtained in 1980-1984 in cooperation with Elista plague control station (Kalmykia) and Microbe Institute (Saratov). Available data provide good basis for analyzing long-term dynamics of local ecosystems and will contribute significantly to successful implementation of the suggested project.

Scope of activities includes four main directions:

I) Preliminary analysis of literature sources and available original data:
II) Data collecting in the field (surveys of study area, estimating habitat and rodent species variation; estimating species abundance and composition; establishing 5 study grids within model key habitats; mapping of vegetation and estimating plant species abundance and composition within study grids; estimating rodents composition and distribution within grids by means of live-trapping; three experiments on manipulation of local density of main rodent hosts;
III) Data Treatment (statistical analysis of variation of rodent species composition, abundance, distribu-tion, migration, reproduction rates, sex-age structure between habitats and seasons; statistical analysis of variation of vegetation structure and abundance between habitats and seasons; revealing dynamic stages of vegetation recovering succession and constructing succession rows for habitats under varying human impact; creating computer database of spatio-temporal distribution of rodents and plant species; creating multi-layered GIS of plant-rodent distribution; statistical analysis of variation of rodent community structure in re-lation to stages of vegetation succession and extent of habitat degradation-recovering; revealing competition effects within rodent community (statistical model of experiments);
IV) Data generalization (revealing species specific patterns of population structure determining their role as hosts of infections in natural focies; revealing patterns of community structure facilitating parasites ex-change between inpiduals and species; summarizing data on rodent community structure and dynamics under varying conditions; multivariate analysis revealing major factors effecting rodent community structure and dynamics; revealing modern trends of ecosystem development in the region; developing of the prognostic model of rodent community dynamics in accordance with modern trends of ecosystem development

Technical approach and methodology of the project are based on combination of traditional methods of field zoological and botanical studies and quantitative multivariate analysis of main parameters of ecosystem components as well as modem computer methods of database analysis and modeling. Key sites will be selected in accordance with gradient of rodent species abundance and composition and extent of habitat transformation. In this model patterns of rodent community are put as dependent variables while variation in habitat structure and especially extent of disturbance are taken as determinants. Original GIS will be used for storing and analysis of data on variation of major parameters of local ecosystems and for creating prognostic model.


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