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      Bird-feeder cleaning lowers disease severity in rural but not urban birds

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          Abstract

          Animals inhabiting urban areas often experience elevated disease threats, putatively due to factors such as increased population density and horizontal transmission or decreased immunity (e.g. due to nutrition, pollution, stress). However, for animals that take advantage of human food subsidies, like feeder-visiting birds, an additional mechanism may include exposure to contaminated feeders as fomites. There are some published associations between bird feeder presence/density and avian disease, but to date no experimental study has tested the hypothesis that feeder contamination can directly impact disease status of visiting birds, especially in relation to the population of origin (i.e. urban v. rural, where feeder use/densities naturally vary dramatically). Here we used a field, feeder-cleaning experimental design to show that rural, but not urban, house finches ( Haemorhous mexicanus) showed increased infection from a common coccidian endoparasite ( Isospora spp.) when feeders were left uncleaned and that daily cleaning (with diluted bleach solution) over a 5-week period successfully decreased parasite burden. Moreover, this pattern in rural finches was true for males but not females. These experimental results reveal habitat- and sex-specific harmful effects of bird feeder use (i.e. when uncleaned in rural areas). Our study is the first to directly indicate to humans who maintain feeders for granivorous birds that routine cleaning can be critical for ensuring the health and viability of visiting avian species.

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          Most cited references 45

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          Urbanization and the ecology of wildlife diseases

          Urbanization is intensifying worldwide, with two-thirds of the human population expected to reside in cities within 30 years. The role of cities in human infectious disease is well established, but less is known about how urban landscapes influence wildlife–pathogen interactions. Here, we draw on recent advances in wildlife epidemiology to consider how environmental changes linked with urbanization can alter the biology of hosts, pathogens and vectors. Although urbanization reduces the abundance of many wildlife parasites, transmission can, in some cases, increase among urban-adapted hosts, with effects on rarer wildlife or those living beyond city limits. Continued rapid urbanization, together with risks posed by multi-host pathogens for humans and vulnerable wildlife populations, emphasize the need for future research on wildlife diseases in urban landscapes.
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            Human Domination of Earth's Ecosystems

             P. Vitousek (1997)
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              Linking anthropogenic resources to wildlife–pathogen dynamics: a review and meta-analysis

              Urbanisation and agriculture cause declines for many wildlife, but some species benefit from novel resources, especially food, provided in human-dominated habitats. Resulting shifts in wildlife ecology can alter infectious disease dynamics and create opportunities for cross-species transmission, yet predicting host–pathogen responses to resource provisioning is challenging. Factors enhancing transmission, such as increased aggregation, could be offset by better host immunity due to improved nutrition. Here, we conduct a review and meta-analysis to show that food provisioning results in highly heterogeneous infection outcomes that depend on pathogen type and anthropogenic food source. We also find empirical support for behavioural and immune mechanisms through which human-provided resources alter host exposure and tolerance to pathogens. A review of recent theoretical models of resource provisioning and infection dynamics shows that changes in host contact rates and immunity produce strong non-linear responses in pathogen invasion and prevalence. By integrating results of our meta-analysis back into a theoretical framework, we find provisioning amplifies pathogen invasion under increased host aggregation and tolerance, but reduces transmission if provisioned food decreases dietary exposure to parasites. These results carry implications for wildlife disease management and highlight areas for future work, such as how resource shifts might affect virulence evolution.
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                Author and article information

                Contributors
                kjmcgraw@asu.edu
                Journal
                Sci Rep
                Sci Rep
                Scientific Reports
                Nature Publishing Group UK (London )
                2045-2322
                18 June 2021
                18 June 2021
                2021
                : 11
                Affiliations
                [1 ]GRID grid.215654.1, ISNI 0000 0001 2151 2636, Barrett The Honors College, , Arizona State University, ; Tempe, AZ 85287 USA
                [2 ]GRID grid.215654.1, ISNI 0000 0001 2151 2636, School of Life Sciences, , Arizona State University, ; Tempe, AZ 85287 USA
                Article
                92117
                10.1038/s41598-021-92117-y
                8213693
                © The Author(s) 2021

                Open Access This article is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License, which permits use, sharing, adaptation, distribution and reproduction in any medium or format, as long as you give appropriate credit to the original author(s) and the source, provide a link to the Creative Commons licence, and indicate if changes were made. The images or other third party material in this article are included in the article's Creative Commons licence, unless indicated otherwise in a credit line to the material. If material is not included in the article's Creative Commons licence and your intended use is not permitted by statutory regulation or exceeds the permitted use, you will need to obtain permission directly from the copyright holder. To view a copy of this licence, visit http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/.

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                ecological epidemiology, gastrointestinal diseases, ecology, evolution, zoology

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