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The potential effects of repeated outbreaks of phocine distemper among harbour seals: a response to Harding et al.(2002)

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Abstract

In 2002 phocine distemper virus (PDV) reappeared in the European harbour seal (Phoca vitulina) population. This outbreak seems to have followed a similar pattern to the 1988 one which killed almost 60% of individuals in most localities. Harding et al. ( 2002) suggested that there is a relatively high (18%) risk that recurrent outbreaks of PDV could reduce the European harbour seal population by 90%. We show that incorporating the effects of observation error during population surveys and of the long-term immunity of survivors of morbillivirus outbreaks indicate a much lower level of risk (< 1%). This suggests that, while the immediate effects of the disease are dramatic, it is unlikely that recurrent epidemics will pose serious conservation problems for this species under current conditions.

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Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)889-893
Number of pages5
JournalEcology Letters
Volume6
Issue number10
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Oct 2003

    Research areas

  • epidemiology, epizootiology, extinction risk, mathematical model, mortality rates, phocine distemper virus, population dynamics, AGE-STRUCTURED POPULATIONS, VITULINA, EPIDEMIOLOGY, DYNAMICS, EUROPE, DEATHS

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