Epidemiology and Infection

Original Papers


Towards a new, ecologically targeted approach to monitoring wild bird populations for avian influenza viruses

C. U. R. SCHOENEa1 c1, C. STAUBACHa1, C. GRUNDa2, A. GLOBIGa2, M. KRAMERa1, H. WILKINGa1, M. BEERa2, F. J. CONRATHSa1, T. C. HARDERa2 and the BL Monitoring Group 

a1 Friedrich-Loeffler-Institut, Federal Research Institute for Animal Health, Institute of Epidemiology, Wusterhausen, Germany

a2 Friedrich-Loeffler-Institut, Federal Research Institute for Animal Health, Institute of Diagnostic Virology, Greifswald – Insel Riems, Germany


Prevalence monitoring of avian influenza in wild bird populations is important to estimate risks for the occurrence of potentially zoonotic and economically disastrous outbreaks of highly pathogenic avian influenza virus (AIV) in poultry worldwide. A targeted, cost-effective monitoring method for AIV in wild birds was developed, which is based on monitoring results for AIV in Germany and information on the distribution and abundance of wild bird species in selected habitat types. Spatial data were combined with virological and outbreak data for the period of 1 January 2006 to 31 December 2010. Using Germany as an example, we identified 11 indicator species. By concentrating monitoring efforts on these species in spatially confined locations, we propose a targeted and more cost-effective risk-based AIV monitoring approach that can be adapted universally for the identification of wild bird indicator species worldwide with the perspective of reducing sample sizes (and costs) without impairing the validity of the results.

(Received March 07 2012)

(Revised June 23 2012)

(Accepted July 19 2012)

(Online publication August 24 2012)

Key words

  • Avian influenza;
  • indicator species;
  • Ramsar sites;
  • risk-based sampling;
  • wild bird database;
  • wild bird monitoring


c1 Author for correspondence: Dr C. U. R. Schoene, Robert Koch-Institut, Centre for Biological Security, Federal Information Centre for Biological Security, DGZ-Ring 1, 13086 Berlin, Germany. (Email: SchoeneC@rki.de)


  Members of the BL Monitoring Group are listed in the Appendix.