Cooperative Research Units
Education, Research And Technical Assistance For Managing Our Natural Resources
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Predicting the Spread of Chronic Wasting Disease in an Agricultural Landscape


October 2007 - September 2011


The goal of this project is to integrate genetic tools (measurement of gene flow across geographic populations) with landscape ecology (identification of habitat friction/permeability and landscape features) and CWD disease patterns to develop models for predicting the geographic pathways and relative rates of CWD transmission across areas of southern Wisconsin. Emphasis will be placed on development of models of disease spread and prediction of geographic spread of CWD to aid the long-term management of CWD and to identify areas of risk of CWD exposure in human and livestock systems. Specific project objectives include: 1) Utilize current landscape, deer range, and GIS maps to identify contiguous patches of deer habitat, disjunct deer populations, potential migration corridors, and potential movement barriers to optimize collection of genetic samples and facilitate landscape connectivity modeling; 2) Evaluate potential barriers (rivers, highways, extensive agricultural areas) and corridors (riparian areas, forested landscape) to deer movement patterns and gene flow; 3) Determine whether CWD positive deer from spark areas (areas of CWD infection separated from the high prevalence core area) originated locally or dispersed from the core area. Genetic methods would be used to compare relatedness from CWD positive deer in the spark areas to deer from spark and core areas; and 4) Develop integrated models of geographic gene flow, landscape features, and habitat permeability that affect deer movement, link these models to CWD prevalence patterns, and predict potential geographic spread and relative rate of CWD infection beyond the current distribution.

Research Products and Activities

Peer Reviewed Publications

  • Rogers, K. G., S. J. Robinson, and M. D. SAMUEL. 2011. Diversity and distribution of white-tailed deer mtDNA lineages in CWD outbreak areas in southern Wisconsin, USA. Journal of Toxicology and Environmental Health 74:1521-1535.
  • Robinson, S. J., M. D. SAMUEL, D. L Lopez, and P. Shelton. The walk is never random: subtle landscape effects shape gene flow in a continuous white-tailed deer population in the Midwestern United States. Molecular Ecology. doi: 10.1111/j.1365-294X.2012.05681.x

Current Staff

Federal Staff: 95

Masters Students: 238

Phd Students: 144

Post Docs: 54

University Staff: 239

5 Year Summary

Students graduated: 673

Scientific Publications: 1905

Presentations: 4235



Funding Agencies

  • USDA Hatch


Cooperative Research Units Program Headquarters Cooperators

  1. U.S. Geological Survey