Wildlife disease elimination and density dependence

A. Potapov, E. Merrill, M. A. Lewis

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

56 Scopus citations


Disease control by managers is a crucial response to emerging wildlife epidemics, yet the means of control may be limited by the method of disease transmission. In particular, it is widely held that population reduction, while effective for controlling diseases that are subject to density-dependent (DD) transmission, is ineffective for controlling diseases that are subject to frequency-dependent (FD) transmission. We investigate control for horizontally transmitted diseases with FD transmission where the control is via culling or harvest that is non-selective with respect to infection and the population can compensate through DD recruitment or survival. Using a mathematical model, we show that culling or harvesting can eradicate the disease, even when transmission dynamics are FD. Eradication can be achieved under FD transmission when DD birth or recruitment induces compensatory growth of new, healthy individuals, which has the net effect of reducing disease prevalence by dilution. We also show that if harvest is used simultaneously with vaccination, and there is high enough transmission coefficient, application of both controls may be less efficient than vaccination alone. We illustrate the effects of these control approaches on disease prevalence for chronic wasting disease in deer where the disease is transmitted directly among deer and through the environment.
Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)3139-3145
Number of pages7
JournalProceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences
Issue number1741
StatePublished - May 16 2012
Externally publishedYes


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