Cooperative Research Units
Education, Research And Technical Assistance For Managing Our Natural Resources
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Modeling the dynamics of avian influenza in wild birds and potential transmission with domestic fowl


August 2007 - December 2010


The main objective of this project is to develop a simplified epidemiological model of AI transmission among wild birds and wetland ecosystems and to consider potential routes of transmission between wild and domestic birds. Currently little is currently known about the many factors that likely influence the dynamics of AI in wild birds, thus, researchers will focus on simple models that incorporate rates of virus shedding, infection, and recovery for wild bird populations; input and turnover of virus in wetland systems; and alternative routes of transmission between wild and domestic birds (e.g., common wetlands, use of contaminated water, exposure via field contamination). Model development, complexity, and initial parameter estimation will be based on information or data obtained from published and unpublished reports and on knowledge provided by wildlife disease experts. Initially, models will be constructed based on ecological and geographical separation of waterbirds into breeding, fall migration, wintering, and spring migration components. Development of this modeling framework for AI will provide a number of expected benefits: 1) summary and quantification of epidemiological information about AI infection in wild birds, 2) systematic sensitivity evaluation to identify areas where scientific research will have the highest impacts on predicting disease dynamics, 3) evaluate the potential impact of alternative hypotheses about AI transmission and reservoir dynamics, 4) guide and focus scientific investigations by identifying key factors and interactions that should be studied, 5) provide a preliminary modeling framework that can be enhanced as additional scientific information is discovered, 6) provide a simple framework for evaluating alternative monitoring and detection strategies, and 7) provide an initial framework to determining relative risk of AI transmission between wild and domestic species.

Research Products and Activities

Peer Reviewed Publications

  • Henaux, V., M. D. Samuel, and C. M. Bunck. Model-Based Evaluation of HP and LP Avian Influenza Dynamics in Wild Birds. PLoS ONE 5(6): e10997. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0010997.
  • Hénaux, V., M. D. SAMUEL, R. J. Dusek, J. P. Fleskes, and H. S. Ip. 2012. Presence of Avian Influenza Viruses in Waterfowl and Wetlands during Summer 2010 in California: Are Resident Birds a Potential Reservoir? PLoS ONE: e31471. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0031471
  • Hénaux, V., M. D. Samuel, J. Parmley, and C. Soos. 2013. Estimating transmission of avian influenza in wild birds from incomplete epizootic data: implications for surveillance and disease spread. Journal of Applied Ecology 50: 223–231.

Current Staff

Federal Staff: 95

Masters Students: 239

Phd Students: 144

Post Docs: 55

University Staff: 239

5 Year Summary

Students graduated: 670

Scientific Publications: 1897

Presentations: 4202



  • Michael SamuelPrincipal Investigator
  • Viviane Henaux-BezardStudent

Funding Agencies

  • National Wildlife Health Center


Cooperative Research Units Program Headquarters Cooperators

  1. U.S. Geological Survey