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Biology Bar-headed Goose and spread of highly pathogenic virus


Ecology and Status of the Species and the Present Range of the Endemic of Cantral asia - Bar-headed Goose (Anser indicus) and its Role in the Spread of Highly Pathogenic Influenza and Newcastle Viruses

Tech Area / Field

  • BIO-MIB/Microbiology/Biotechnology
  • BIO-OTH/Other/Biotechnology
  • MED-DIS/Disease Surveillance/Medicine

3 Approved without Funding

Registration date

Leading Institute
Institute of Forest, Tajikistan, Dushanbe

Supporting institutes

  • Institute "Biological preparations" of Academy of agricultural sciences RT, Tajikistan, Dushanbe

Project summary

Bar-headed Goose (Anser indicus) is endemic species of Central Asia. At present, in Tajikistan Bar-headed Goose nests only on the high-altitude lakes Karakul and Zorkul. Sporadic nesting of inpidual pairs occurs on the lakes Rangkul and Yashilkul. Last twenty years Bar-headed Goose number greatly varied, from 50 to 500 nesting pairs, due to the anthropogenic impact (nest destroying and geese extermination) and strong weather conditions. Thus, it is required for generalization and analysis of the information about number and distribution of Bar-headed Goose, especially updating of its area boundaries.
At present migrations of the Bar-headed Goose are being actively and large-scale investigated using satellite transmissions on the territory of Mongolia and China. These studies have shown a complex system of seasonal migrations, which require clarification and analysis. For this, we propose to use phylogeographic approach with its modern methodic base. It is required to update conservation status and to describe boundaries of this species current area, for organization of the complex of measures of its conservation.
Highly pathogenic avian influenza outbreaks in Central Asia occurred since 2005, highlighted the question about the role of migratory bird species. Despite of increasing efforts in monitoring of migrations, major species involved in the circulation, have not been identified yet. There are already created spatial models of the seasonal migrations, based on the study of the local movements and stopovers focused on general migratory flyways. Effect of the recurrent outbreaks of H5N1 on migratory stopovers is studied. It is known that these outbreaks can disturb the population balance during fall migration, compared to the spring one.
Bar-headed goose is one of the key species, answerable for contagion of highly pathogenic avian influenza in China, India, Pakistan and other countries in Middle and South Asia. Thus, according to experts, in the course of H5N1 epizootic in 2005, China lost up to 10% of the world population of Bar-headed Goose. Implementation of the project will allow examine the material from Bar-headed Goose to other viral and bacterial diseases.
Goal. The main goal of the project is a comprehensive study and analysis of the environmental aspects, the status of the species and the present range of Bar-headed Goose in Russia, Tajikistan and North China and its role in the spread of highly pathogenic influenza in the region.
Expected results. This project is mainly concerned with basic research dedicated to the study of biology of the Bar-headed Goose and its role in the circulation of infectious agents in wildlife. It is expected to provide valuable information for the analysis of several aspects of the biology of the endemic monotypic species in the Pamirs (Gorno-Badakhshan Autonomous province of Tajikistan) and its role in the ecology of influenza viruses, including avian influenza H5N1. The knowledge gained in this project will provide us better understanding of the circulation of influenza viruses, the mechanism and causes of the transmission of the influenza virus from one species to another. New and necessary result will be study of the reassortment of influenza virus. These data will help to understand the reasons for the emergence of new pathogenic strains of the virus and also the emergence and development of epidemics and pandemics.
Despite the fact that the project is mainly directed to solve fundamental scientific problems, its important application is the result of the organization of regular monitoring of Bar-headed Goose populations in Central Asia. The importance of this application problem is from the fact that area covered by the project is one of the main migration routes of birds from South-East Asia and China, the endemic area for avian influenza H5N1, to other Asian countries and Europe. The availability of the constant information about the circulation of influenza virus in migratory birds of this species will allow to arrange in time adequate quarantine measures against the flu virus enters the territory of Tajikistan and neighboring republics.


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