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

Mike Lonergan, John Harwood

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

9 Citations (Scopus)

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.

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

Keywords

  • Epidemiology
  • Epizootiology
  • Extinction risk
  • Mathematical model
  • Mortality rates
  • Phocine distemper virus
  • Population dynamics

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