Model recommendations meet management reality: Implementation and evaluation of a network-informed vaccination effort for endangered Hawaiian monk seals

Stacie J. Robinson, Michelle M. Barbieri, Samantha Murphy, Jason D. Baker, Albert L. Harting, Meggan E. Craft, Charles L. Littnan

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Scopus citations

Abstract

Where disease threatens endangeredwildlife populations, substantial resources are required for management actions such as vaccination. While network models provide a promising tool for identifying key spreaders and prioritizing efforts to maximize efficiency, population-scale vaccination remains rare, providing few opportunities to evaluate performance of model-informed strategies under realistic scenarios. Because the endangered Hawaiian monk seal could be heavily impacted by disease threats such as morbillivirus, we implemented a prophylactic vaccination programme. We used contact networks to prioritize vaccinating animals with high contact rates. We used dynamic network models to simulate morbillivirus outbreaks under real and idealized vaccination scenarios. We then evaluated the efficacy of model recommendations in this real-world vaccination project.We found that deviating from the model recommendations decreased the efficiency; requiring 44% more vaccinations to achieve a given decrease in outbreak size. However, we gained protection more quickly by vaccinating available animals rather than waiting to encounter priority seals. This work demonstrates the value of network models, but also makes trade-offs clear. If vaccines were limited but time was ample, vaccinating only priority animals would maximize herd protection. However, where time is the limiting factor, vaccinating additional lower-priority animals could more quickly protect the population.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number20171899
JournalProceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences
Volume285
Issue number1870
DOIs
StatePublished - Jan 10 2018

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
Many thanks to The Marine Mammal Center and their Ke Kai Ola hospital for playing a crucial role in early vaccination tests in rehabilitated seals, to volunteers who contributed to sightings data and helped locate vaccination candidates, and to NOAA staff who conducted vaccinations and participated in drills and planning for this vaccination effort. Special thanks to Frances Gulland and Stephanie Venn Watson for help in developing the vaccination plan for Hawaiian monk seals.

Keywords

  • Hawaiian monk seal
  • Morbillivirus
  • Network model
  • Vaccination
  • Wildlife disease

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