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Invasive pathogen drives host population collapse: effects of a travelling wave of sarcoptic mange on bare-nosed wombats


Martin, AM and Burridge, CP and Ingram, J and Fraser, TA and Carver, S, Invasive pathogen drives host population collapse: effects of a travelling wave of sarcoptic mange on bare-nosed wombats, Journal of Applied Ecology, 55, (1) pp. 331-341. ISSN 1365-2664 (2018) [Refereed Article]

Copyright Statement

2017 The Authors. Journal of Applied Ecology 2017 British Ecological Society

DOI: doi:10.1111/1365-2664.12968


1. Emerging and invasive pathogens can have long-lasting impacts on susceptible wildlife populations, including localised collapse and extirpation. Management of threatening disease is of widespread interest and requires knowledge of spatiotemporal patterns of pathogen spread.

2. Theory suggests disease spread often occurs via two patterns: homogenous mixing and travelling waves. However, high resolution empirical data demonstrating localised (within population) disease spread patterns are rare.

3. This study examined the spread of sarcoptic mange (aetiological agent Sarcoptes scabiei) in a population of bare-nosed wombats (Vombatus ursinus), and investigated whether pathogen spread occurred by homogenous mixing or a travelling wave.

4. Using seven years of population surveys and four years of disease severity surveys, we show that mange was first detected in the east of a wombat population in northern Tasmania, and progressed westward as a travelling wave. Wombat mortality rates reached 100% behind the wave, with a 94% decline in overall wombat abundance within the park.

5. Synthesis and applications. Globally distributed pathogens may have severe impacts on susceptible host species. This is the first study to quantify population level impacts of sarcoptic mange upon bare-nosed wombats, showing a wave of mange disease which resulted in a dramatic population decline. Successful management of the spread of this and similar pathogens may hinge on the capacity to establish transmission barriers at local or between population scales.

Item Details

Item Type:Refereed Article
Keywords:host, scabies mite, bare-nosed wombat, disease invasion, disease spread, disease transmission, disease wave, homogenous mixing, invasive pathogens, sarcoptic mange, travelling wave
Research Division:Biological Sciences
Research Group:Ecology
Research Field:Terrestrial ecology
Objective Division:Environmental Management
Objective Group:Other environmental management
Objective Field:Other environmental management not elsewhere classified
UTAS Author:Martin, AM (Ms Alynn Martin)
UTAS Author:Burridge, CP (Associate Professor Christopher Burridge)
UTAS Author:Ingram, J (Ms Janeane Ingram)
UTAS Author:Fraser, TA (Ms Tamieka Fraser)
UTAS Author:Carver, S (Associate Professor Scott Carver)
ID Code:118399
Year Published:2018
Web of Science® Times Cited:37
Deposited By:TIA - Research Institute
Deposited On:2017-07-11
Last Modified:2022-08-29

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