• Detailed monitoring of a small but recovering population reveals sublethal effects of disease and unexpected interactions with supplemental feeding

      Tollington, S.; Greenwood, A.; Jones, C.G.; Hoeck, Paquita; Chowrimootoo, A.; Smith, D.; Richards, H.; Tatayah, V.; Groombridge, J.J. (2015)
      Infectious diseases are widely recognized to have substantial impact on wildlife populations. These impacts are sometimes exacerbated in small endangered populations, and therefore, the success of conservation reintroductions to aid the recovery of such species can be seriously threatened by outbreaks of infectious disease. Intensive management strategies associated with conservation reintroductions can further compound these negative effects in such populations. Exploring the sublethal effects of disease outbreaks among natural populations is challenging and requires longitudinal, individual life‐history data on patterns of reproductive success and other indicators of individual fitness. Long‐term monitoring data concerning detailed reproductive information of the reintroduced Mauritius parakeet (Psittacula echo ) population collected before, during and after a disease outbreak was investigated. Deleterious effects of an outbreak of beak and feather disease virus (BFDV ) were revealed on hatch success, but these effects were remarkably short‐lived and disproportionately associated with breeding pairs which took supplemental food. Individual BFDV infection status was not predicted by any genetic, environmental or conservation management factors and was not associated with any of our measures of immune function, perhaps suggesting immunological impairment. Experimental immunostimulation using the PHA (phytohaemagglutinin assay) challenge technique did, however, provoke a significant cellular immune response. We illustrate the resilience of this bottlenecked and once critically endangered, island‐endemic species to an epidemic outbreak of BFDV and highlight the value of systematic monitoring in revealing inconspicuous but nonetheless substantial ecological interactions. Our study demonstrates that the emergence of such an infectious disease in a population ordinarily associated with increased susceptibility does not necessarily lead to deleterious impacts on population growth and that negative effects on reproductive fitness can be short‐lived.
    • Detection of neopterin in the urine of captive and wild platyrrhines

      Sacco, Alexandra J.; Mayhew, Jessica A.; Watsa, Mrinalini; Erkenswick, Gideon; Binder, April K. (Springer Science and Business Media LLC, 2020)
      Background: Non-invasive biomarkers can facilitate health assessments in wild primate populations by reducing the need for direct access to animals. Neopterin is a biomarker that is a product of the cell-mediated immune response, with high levels being indicative of poor survival expectations in some cases. The measurement of urinary neopterin concentration (UNC) has been validated as a method for monitoring cell-mediated immune system activation in multiple catarrhine species, but to date there is no study testing its utility in the urine of platyrrhine species. In this study, we collected urine samples across three platyrrhine families including small captive populations of Leontopithecus rosalia and Pithecia pithecia, and larger wild populations of Leontocebus weddelli, Saguinus imperator, Alouatta seniculus, and Plecturocebus toppini, to evaluate a commercial enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA) for the measurement of urinary neopterin in platyrrhines. Results: Our results revealed measured UNC fell within the sensitivity range of the assay in all urine samples collected from captive and wild platyrrhine study species via commercial ELISA, and results from several dilutions met expectations. We found significant differences in the mean UNC across all study species. Most notably, we observed higher UNC in the wild population of L. weddelli which is known to have two filarial nematode infections compared to S. imperator, which only have one. Conclusion: Our study confirms that neopterin is measurable via commercial ELISA in urine collected from captive and wild individuals of six genera of platyrrhines across three different families. These findings promote the future utility of UNC as a promising biomarker for field primatologists conducting research in Latin America to non-invasively evaluate cell-mediated immune system activation from urine. Keywords: Neopterin, Health monitoring, Platyrrhines, Immune function, Biomarker
    • Duration of maternal antibodies against canine distemper virus and hendra virus in pteropid bats

      Epstein, Jonathan H.; Baker, Michelle L.; Zambrana-Torrelio, Carlos; Middleton, Deborah; Barr, Jennifer A.; DuBovi, Edward; Boyd, Victoria; Pope, Brian; Todd, Shawn; Crameri, Gary; et al. (2013)
      Old World frugivorous bats have been identified as natural hosts for emerging zoonotic viruses of significant public health concern, including henipaviruses (Nipah and Hendra virus), Ebola virus, and Marburg virus. Epidemiological studies of these viruses in bats often utilize serology to describe viral dynamics, with particular attention paid to juveniles, whose birth increases the overall susceptibility of the population to a viral outbreak once maternal immunity wanes. However, little is understood about bat immunology, including the duration of maternal antibodies in neonates. Understanding duration of maternally derived immunity is critical for characterizing viral dynamics in bat populations, which may help assess the risk of spillover to humans. We conducted two separate studies of pregnant Pteropus bat species and their offspring to measure the half-life and duration of antibodies to 1) canine distemper virus antigen in vaccinated captive Pteropus hypomelanus; and 2) Hendra virus in wild-caught, naturally infected Pteropus alecto. Both of these pteropid bat species are known reservoirs for henipaviruses. We found that in both species, antibodies were transferred from dam to pup. In P. hypomelanus pups, titers against CDV waned over a mean period of 228.6 days (95% CI: 185.4–271.8) and had a mean terminal phase half-life of 96.0 days (CI 95%: 30.7–299.7). In P. alecto pups, antibodies waned over 255.13 days (95% CI: 221.0–289.3) and had a mean terminal phase half-life of 52.24 days (CI 95%: 33.76–80.83). Each species showed a duration of transferred maternal immunity of between 7.5 and 8.5 months, which was longer than has been previously estimated. These data will allow for more accurate interpretation of age-related Henipavirus serological data collected from wild pteropid bats.