Avian Influenza Virus in North American Migratory Birds
The UCLA Center for Tropical Research (CTR) is at the forefront of research and surveillance of avian influenza virus (bird flu or avian flu) in wild birds. CTR has led avian influenza virus (AIV) surveys of migratory land birds in both North America and Central Africa. Recently, CTR was awarded a four-year project from the National Institutes of Health/National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIH/NIAID) entitled “Effects of Avian Migration and Anthropogenic Change on the Distribution and Transmission Risks of Avian Influenza."
With this generous support, we are conducting research to determine the role that North American migratory birds play in the dispersion of AIV strains between breeding sites in Canada and the U.S. and wintering sites in Mexico, Central America, and South America. In addition, we plan to investigate the impact that human land use changes may have on migratory routes and the potential transmission of influenza between hosts, particularly between humans and birds.
Our research is divided into four parts:
- Identifying the distribution and prevalence of avian influenza strains in Nearctic-Neotropical migratory birds.
- Establishing the extent to which AIV distributions correlate with known patterns of migratory connectivity.
- Determining the incidence of AIV transmission from birds to humans and whether the strain distributions in humans reflect the strain distributions in birds.
- Identifying, using remote sensing data, the environmental variables that are associated with AIV strain distribution. This data will be incorporated into ecological models used to predict how human changes in habitat can affect transmission dynamics between migratory species, between migratory and resident species, and between birds and humans.
These studies take advantage of our unique collaboration with the major bird banding station networks in the Americas, our extensive experience in avian field research in Central Africa, and UCLA’s unique resources and expertise in infectious diseases.
Collaborators on this project include the following organizations:
- The Institute for Bird Populations (IBP) created and coordinates four landbird monitoring programs that utilize mist netting and banding:
- Monitoring Avian Productivity and Survivorship (MAPS) - breeding season monitoring across North America
- Monitoreo de Sobrevivencia Invernal (MoSI) - winter monitoring in Mexico, Latin America, and the Caribbean
- Monitoring Avian Winter Survival (MAWS) - winter monitoring in the southern U.S.
- Molt Migration Stopover (MoMS) - monitoring of molt-migrant species in the North American Monsoon region
- The Landbird Monitoring Network of the Americas (LaMNA), coordinated by the U.S. forest service redwood science lab.
- UCLA’s High Speed, High Volume Laboratory Network for Infectious Diseases
- Los Alamos National Laboratory
- UCLA School of Public Health, Department of Epidemiology
- Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health
- NIH/NIAID Laboratory of Infectious Diseases
- U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Southeast Poultry Research Laboratory
AIV Project Contact Information
Research Assistant, Center for Tropical Research
and Department of Ecology and Evolution Biology
University of California, Los Angeles
621 Charles Young Drive South
Los Angeles, CA 90095