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1 February 2009 Differential Impact of West Nile Virus on California Birds
Sarah S. Wheeler, Christopher M. Barker, Ying Fang, M. Veronica Armijos, Brian D. Carroll, Stan Husted, Wesley O. Johnson, William K. Reisen
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The strain of West Nile virus (WNV) currently epidemic in North America contains a genetic mutation elevating its virulence in birds, especially species in the family Corvidae. Although dead American Crows (Corvus brachyrhynchos) have been the hallmark of the epidemic, the overall impact of WNV on North America’s avifauna remains poorly understood and has not been addressed thoroughly in California. Here, we evaluate variation by species in the effect of WNV on California birds from 2004 to 2007 by using (1) seroprevalence in free-ranging birds, (2) percentage of carcasses of each species reported by the public that tested positive for WNV, (3) mortality determined from experimental infections, and (4) population declines detected by trend analysis of Breeding Bird Survey (BBS) data. Using Bayesian linear models, we extrapolate trends in BBS data from 1980–2003 (pre-WNV) to 2004–2007 (post-WNV). We attribute signifcant declines from expected abundance trends in areas supporting epiornitics to WNV transmission. We combine risk assessed from each of the four data sets to generate an overall score describing WNV risk by species. The susceptibility of California avifauna to WNV varies widely, with overall risk scores ranging from low for the refractory Rock Pigeon (Columba livia) through high for the susceptible American Crow. Other species at high risk include, in descending order, the House finch (Carpodacus mexicanus) , Black- crowned N i g h t - Heron ( Nycticorax nycticorax) , Western Scrub - Jay ( Aphelocoma californica), and Yellow-billed magpie (Pica nuttalli). Our analyses emphasize the importance of multiple data sources in assessing the effect of an invading pathogen.

© 2009 by The Cooper Ornithological Society. All rights reserved. Please direct all requests for permission to photocopy or reproduce article content through the University of California Press’s Rights and Permissions website, reprintInfo.asp.
Sarah S. Wheeler, Christopher M. Barker, Ying Fang, M. Veronica Armijos, Brian D. Carroll, Stan Husted, Wesley O. Johnson, and William K. Reisen "Differential Impact of West Nile Virus on California Birds," The Condor 111(1), 1-20, (1 February 2009).
Received: 12 August 2008; Accepted: 18 October 2008; Published: 1 February 2009

West Nile virus
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