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  1. Abstract

    Monitoring the health of wildlife populations is essential in the face of increased agricultural expansion and forest fragmentation. Loss of habitat and habitat degradation can negatively affect an animal’s physiological state, possibly resulting in immunosuppression and increased morbidity or mortality. We sought to determine how land conversion may differentially impact cellular immunity and infection risk in Neotropical bats species regularly infected with bloodborne pathogens, and to evaluate how effects may vary over time and by dietary habit. We studied common vampire bats (Desmodus rotundus), northern yellow-shouldered bats (Sturnira parvidens) and Mesoamerican mustached bats (Pteronotus mesoamericanus), representing the dietary habits of sanguivory, frugivory and insectivory respectively, in northern Belize. We compared estimated total white blood cell count, leukocyte differentials, neutrophil to lymphocyte ratio and infection status with two bloodborne bacterial pathogens (Bartonella spp. and hemoplasmas) of 118 bats captured in a broadleaf, secondary forest over three years (2017–2019). During this period, tree cover decreased by 14.5% while rangeland expanded by 14.3%, indicating increasing habitat loss and fragmentation. We found evidence for bat species-specific responses of cellular immunity between years, with neutrophil counts significantly decreasing in S. parvidens from 2017 to 2018, but marginally increasing in D. rotundus. However, the odds of infection with Bartonella spp. and hemoplasmas between 2017 and 2019 did not differ between bat species, contrary to our prediction that pathogen prevalence may increase with land conversion. We conclude that each bat species invested differently in cellular immunity in ways that changed over years of increasing habitat loss and fragmentation. We recommend further research on the interactions between land conversion, immunity and infection across dietary habits of Neotropical bats for informed management and conservation.

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  2. When evaluating avian reproduction, life history theory examines the trade‐offs between parental effort, the number and size of offspring, and the rate of nestling development. The growth rates and body sizes of developing birds vary geographically and can diverge with both latitude and migratory strategy. In terms of offspring size, growth rate can deviate in nestlings of the same or similar species due to the correlated influences of weather events, predation pressure, food availability, number of nestmates and parental provisioning. Furthermore, a longer photoperiod for species nesting at higher latitudes increases the duration over which a nestling can be fed each day, and increased nestling provisioning has been positively correlated with growth rate. Whether the amount of time a bird is fed during development drives this variation in growth rate and morphology is unknown. By removing supplemental environmental stressors (e.g. weather, predation) and standardizing feeding rate and environment, we explored the influence of daily duration of nestling provisioning on dark‐eyed junco Junco hyemalis nestlings. We hand‐reared 65 chicks of a sedentary junco subspecies J. h. carolinensis under both their natural photoperiod and the longer photoperiod of a closely related migratory subspecies J. h. hyemalis and compared growth rate, mass, morphology and the amount of food consumed. Average growth rate, fasted mass, wing length and total daily food consumption were all greater in birds hand‐reared under the longer, more northern photoperiod treatment. These findings suggest that increased daily photoperiod at higher latitudes may allow for greater total food provisioning and thus may play a role in the ability of parents in compressed breeding seasons to produce high quality offspring. This points to a trade‐off between provisioning effort and nestling growth rate in lower latitude (shorter photoperiod) populations and points to an important role of developmental plasticity on growth rate and morphology. 
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    Free, publicly-accessible full text available August 16, 2024
  3. Free, publicly-accessible full text available December 1, 2024
  4. Free, publicly-accessible full text available May 1, 2024
  5. Abstract

    The emergence of SARS-CoV-2 highlights a need for evidence-based strategies to monitor bat viruses. We performed a systematic review of coronavirus sampling (testing for RNA positivity) in bats globally. We identified 110 studies published between 2005 and 2020 that collectively reported positivity from 89,752 bat samples. We compiled 2,274 records of infection prevalence at the finest methodological, spatiotemporal and phylogenetic level of detail possible from public records into an open, static database named datacov, together with metadata on sampling and diagnostic methods. We found substantial heterogeneity in viral prevalence across studies, reflecting spatiotemporal variation in viral dynamics and methodological differences. Meta-analysis identified sample type and sampling design as the best predictors of prevalence, with virus detection maximized in rectal and faecal samples and by repeat sampling of the same site. Fewer than one in five studies collected and reported longitudinal data, and euthanasia did not improve virus detection. We show that bat sampling before the SARS-CoV-2 pandemic was concentrated in China, with research gaps in South Asia, the Americas and sub-Saharan Africa, and in subfamilies of phyllostomid bats. We propose that surveillance strategies should address these gaps to improve global health security and enable the origins of zoonotic coronaviruses to be identified.

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  6. Lau, Eric H. (Ed.)

    Beginning December 2016, sylvatic yellow fever (YF) outbreaks spread into southeastern Brazil, and Minas Gerais state experienced two sylvatic YF waves (2017 and 2018). Following these massive YF waves, we screened 187 free-living non-human primate (NHPs) carcasses collected throughout the state between January 2019 and June 2021 for YF virus (YFV) using RTqPCR. One sample belonging to aCallithrix, collected in June 2020, was positive for YFV. The viral strain belonged to the same lineage associated with 2017–2018 outbreaks, showing the continued enzootic circulation of YFV in the state. Next, using data from 781 NHPs carcasses collected in 2017–18, we used generalized additive mixed models (GAMMs) to identify the spatiotemporal and host-level drivers of YFV infection and intensity (an estimation of genomic viral load in the liver of infected NHP). Our GAMMs explained 65% and 68% of variation in virus infection and intensity, respectively, and uncovered strong temporal and spatial patterns for YFV infection and intensity. NHP infection was higher in the eastern part of Minas Gerais state, where 2017–2018 outbreaks affecting humans and NHPs were concentrated. The odds of YFV infection were significantly lower in NHPs from urban areas than from urban-rural or rural areas, while infection intensity was significantly lower in NHPs from urban areas or the urban-rural interface relative to rural areas. Both YFV infection and intensity were higher during the warm/rainy season compared to the cold/dry season. The higher YFV intensity in NHPs in warm/rainy periods could be a result of higher exposure to vectors and/or higher virus titers in vectors during this time resulting in the delivery of a higher virus dose and higher viral replication levels within NHPs. Further studies are needed to better test this hypothesis and further compare the dynamics of YFV enzootic cycles between different seasons.

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    Free, publicly-accessible full text available June 5, 2024