Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

New Hope For The Red Squirrel

Date:
October 22, 2008
Source:
Springer Science+Business Media
Summary:
Study says free-living red squirrels are mounting an immune response to the squirrelpox viral disease.

A new study says free-living red squirrels are mounting an immune response to the squirrelpox viral disease. A number of red squirrels are immune to squirrelpox viral disease, which many believed would lead to the extinction of the species, scientists have discovered.

Scientists led by the Zoological Society of London (ZSL) have identified eight cases in which free-living red squirrels have survived infection with the squirrelpox virus by mounting an immune response.

Dr. Anthony Sainsbury, ZSL researcher and lead author of the paper, said, "We were absolutely delighted to find signs of immunity in red squirrels after years of seeing the squirrelpox virus devastating populations throughout England and Wales. This finding is the first sign of hope in the long struggle to save the species from extinction in the UK."

The red squirrel (Sciurus vulgaris) is a European rodent which has declined dramatically in the UK since the introduction of grey squirrels (Sciurus carolinensis) at the end of the nineteenth century. Their rapid decline has been attributed primarily to the susceptibility of red squirrels to the squirrelpox virus, which the grey squirrel harbours but is immune to and which gives the greys a competitive edge over the reds.

The research also confirmed that changes in the distribution of the squirrelpox disease in red squirrels over time mirrored the changes in the geographical range of the grey squirrel, supporting the theory that the grey squirrel was the reservoir host of the virus, passing it to the red squirrel but remaining immune to the virus itself.

Dr Sainsbury added, "Immunity to the squirrelpox virus should give red squirrels a fighting chance against the grey invaders, without which red squirrels would undoubtedly be destined to lose the battle for survival in the UK. It is imperative that we now discover how widespread immunity to squirrelpox virus in red squirrels is, and begin the work to develop a vaccine to protect the small number of populations that still exist."

The paper was researched and written by scientists from the Zoological Society of London, University of Newcastle upon Tyne, Moredun Research Institute, Veterinary Laboratories Agency, Royal Veterinary College and Queen Mary University of London with funding provided by Natural England, People's Trust for Endangered Species, the Zoological Society of London and other funding agencies.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Springer Science+Business Media. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Sainsbury et al. Poxviral Disease in Red Squirrels Sciurus vulgaris in the UK: Spatial and Temporal Trends of an Emerging Threat. EcoHealth, 2008; DOI: 10.1007/s10393-008-0191-z

Cite This Page:

Springer Science+Business Media. "New Hope For The Red Squirrel." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 22 October 2008. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/10/081016124528.htm>.
Springer Science+Business Media. (2008, October 22). New Hope For The Red Squirrel. ScienceDaily. Retrieved September 2, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/10/081016124528.htm
Springer Science+Business Media. "New Hope For The Red Squirrel." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/10/081016124528.htm (accessed September 2, 2014).

Share This




More Plants & Animals News

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

U.N. Says Ebola Travel Restrictions Will Cause Food Shortage

U.N. Says Ebola Travel Restrictions Will Cause Food Shortage

Newsy (Sep. 2, 2014) — The U.N. says the problem is two-fold — quarantine zones and travel restrictions are limiting the movement of both people and food. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Sharks Off the Menu and on the Tourist Trail in Palau

Sharks Off the Menu and on the Tourist Trail in Palau

AFP (Sep. 2, 2014) — Tourists in Palau clamour to dive with sharks thanks to a pioneering conservation initiative -- as the island nation plans to completely ban commercial fishing in its vast ocean territory. 01:15 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
We've Got Mites Living In Our Faces And So Do You

We've Got Mites Living In Our Faces And So Do You

Newsy (Aug. 30, 2014) — A new study suggests 100 percent of adult humans (those over 18 years of age) have Demodex mites living in their faces. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Coffee Then Napping: The (New) Key To Alertness

Coffee Then Napping: The (New) Key To Alertness

Newsy (Aug. 30, 2014) — Researchers say having a cup of coffee then taking a nap is more effective than a nap or coffee alone. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
 
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:  

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:  

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile iPhone Android Web
Follow Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins