Cooperative Fish and Wildlife Research Units Program: Wisconsin Wildlife
Education, Research and Technical Assistance for Managing Our Natural Resources

Wisconsin Wildlife Project

Predicting the Spread of Chronic Wasting Disease in an Agricultural Landscape

October 2007 - September 2011


Participating Agencies

  • USDA Hatch

The goal of this project is to integrate genetic tools (measurement of gene flow across geographic populations) with landscape ecology (identification of habitat friction/permeability and landscape features) and CWD disease patterns to develop models for predicting the geographic pathways and relative rates of CWD transmission across areas of southern Wisconsin. Emphasis will be placed on development of models of disease spread and prediction of geographic spread of CWD to aid the long-term management of CWD and to identify areas of risk of CWD exposure in human and livestock systems. Specific project objectives include: 1) Utilize current landscape, deer range, and GIS maps to identify contiguous patches of deer habitat, disjunct deer populations, potential migration corridors, and potential movement barriers to optimize collection of genetic samples and facilitate landscape connectivity modeling; 2) Evaluate potential barriers (rivers, highways, extensive agricultural areas) and corridors (riparian areas, forested landscape) to deer movement patterns and gene flow; 3) Determine whether CWD positive deer from spark areas (areas of CWD infection separated from the high prevalence core area) originated locally or dispersed from the core area. Genetic methods would be used to compare relatedness from CWD positive deer in the spark areas to deer from spark and core areas; and 4) Develop integrated models of geographic gene flow, landscape features, and habitat permeability that affect deer movement, link these models to CWD prevalence patterns, and predict potential geographic spread and relative rate of CWD infection beyond the current distribution.

Research Publications Publication Date
Rogers, K. G., S. J. Robinson, and M. D. SAMUEL. 2011. Diversity and distribution of white-tailed deer mtDNA lineages in CWD outbreak areas in southern Wisconsin, USA. Journal of Toxicology and Environmental Health 74:1521-1535. October 2011
Robinson, S. J., M. D. SAMUEL, D. L Lopez, and P. Shelton. The walk is never random: subtle landscape effects shape gene flow in a continuous white-tailed deer population in the Midwestern United States. Molecular Ecology. doi: 10.1111/j.1365-294X.2012.05681.x July 2012