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Document Type

Thesis - University Access Only

Award Date


Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)

Department / School


First Advisor

Michael Wimberly


West Nile virus (WNV) was introduced to the Western Hymisphere near New York City, USA in 1999. In three years' time WNV spread west to the northern Great Plains and in 2003 caused a large outbreak of WNV disease in humans. Multiple factors can influence the transmission dynamics of the WNV disease system and these factors have been shown to vary spatially. This study of the northern Great Plains used a local modeling technique to: (1) determine if variables used in the models were non-stationary; and (2) determine if associations exist between WNV incidence in humans and four bird community structure indices (American Robin abundance, species richness, Shannon's diversity, and community competence). The results revealed that the model containing the Shannon'� diversity index value performed the best and that the independent variables temperature, precipitation, and Shannon's diversity varied with geographic location. The model highlighted that bird diversity can have a negative relationship with WNV incidence, but also revealed that the relationship can vary from location to location. Spatial variability should be considered in future vector-borne disease modeling efforts.

Library of Congress Subject Headings

West Nile virus -- Transmission -- Great Plains
Bird communities -- Great Plains


Includes bibliographical references (pages 67-72)



Number of Pages



South Dakota State University


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