Int J Health Geogr - Potential corridors and barriers for plague spread in Central Asia.

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Resumo

CKGROUND: Plague (Yersinia pestis infection) is a vector-borne disease which caused millions of human deaths in the Middle Ages. The hosts of plague are mostly rodents, and the disease is spread by the fleas that feed on them. Currently, the disease still circulates amongst sylvatic rodent populations all over the world, including great gerbil (Rhombomys opimus) populations in Central Asia. Great gerbils are social desert rodents that live in family groups in burrows, which are visible on satellite images. In great gerbil populations an abundance threshold exists, above which plague can spread causing epizootics. The spatial distribution of the host species is thought to influence the plague dynamics, such as the direction of plague spread, however no detailed analysis exists on the possible functional or structural corridors and barriers that are present in this population and landscape. This study aims to fill that gap.METHODS: Three 20 by 20 km areas with known great gerbil burrow distributions were used to analyse the spatial distribution of the burrows. Object-based image analysis was used to map the landscape at several scales, and was linked to the burrow maps. A novel object-based method was developed - the mean neighbour absolute burrow density difference (MNABDD) - to identify the optimal scale and evaluate the efficacy of using landscape objects as opposed to square cells. Multiple regression using raster maps was used to identify the landscape-ecological variables that explain burrow density best. Functional corridors and barriers were mapped using burrow density thresholds. Cumulative resistance of the burrow distribution to potential disease spread was evaluated using cost distance analysis. A 46-year plague surveillance dataset was used to evaluate whether plague spread was radially symmetric.RESULTS: The burrow distribution was found to be non-random and negatively correlated with Greenness, especially in the floodplain areas. Corridors and barriers showed a mostly NWSE alignment, suggesting easier spreading along this axis. This was confirmed by the analysis of the plague data.CONCLUSIONS: Plague spread had a predominantly NWSE direction, which is likely due to the NWSE alignment of corridors and barriers in the burrow distribution and the landscape. This finding may improve predictions of plague in the future and emphasizes the importance of including landscape analysis in wildlife disease studies.

Resumo Limpo

ckground plagu yersinia pesti infect vectorborn diseas caus million human death middl age host plagu most rodent diseas spread flea feed current diseas still circul amongst sylvat rodent popul world includ great gerbil rhombomi opimus popul central asia great gerbil social desert rodent live famili group burrow visibl satellit imag great gerbil popul abund threshold exist plagu can spread caus epizoot spatial distribut host speci thought influenc plagu dynam direct plagu spread howev detail analysi exist possibl function structur corridor barrier present popul landscap studi aim fill gapmethod three km area known great gerbil burrow distribut use analys spatial distribut burrow objectbas imag analysi use map landscap sever scale link burrow map novel objectbas method develop mean neighbour absolut burrow densiti differ mnabdd identifi optim scale evalu efficaci use landscap object oppos squar cell multipl regress use raster map use identifi landscapeecolog variabl explain burrow densiti best function corridor barrier map use burrow densiti threshold cumul resist burrow distribut potenti diseas spread evalu use cost distanc analysi year plagu surveil dataset use evalu whether plagu spread radial symmetricresult burrow distribut found nonrandom negat correl green especi floodplain area corridor barrier show most nwse align suggest easier spread along axi confirm analysi plagu dataconclus plagu spread predomin nwse direct like due nwse align corridor barrier burrow distribut landscap find may improv predict plagu futur emphas import includ landscap analysi wildlif diseas studi

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