Proceedings of the First Symposium on Marsupials in New Zealand
Epidemiology and Behavioural Patterns in the Possum Trichosurus Vulpecula in Relation to Tuberculosis — Abstract
Epidemiology and Behavioural Patterns in the Possum Trichosurus Vulpecula in Relation to Tuberculosis
Epidemiology is that area of medical science concerned with the ecology of disease. Essentially it is both a descriptive and an interpretive science, placing considerable emphasis on the population dynamics, behavioural patterns and the physiology of the various species involved. This paper reports observations on the incidence of bovine tuberculosis in common brushtail possum populations in the West Coast region of the South Island and especially in the Hohonu mountain area. The following aspects of possum biology are considered in relation to tuberculosis:
|(1)||the condition index in different populations;|
|(2)||age and sex;|
|(3)||distribution in Hohonu Mountain area in terms of distance from forest-pasture margins;|
|(4)||behaviour in relation to density, social structure and feeding.|
The mean incidence of tuberculosis in the Hohonu Mountain possum population was 7.7%.
The possum is a most adaptive species, so variable in its behavioural patterns that reliable observations and conclusions from one locality may even be irrelevant when populations in adjoining localities are considered. Therefore it may be very difficult to relate observations made in the Grey County, Westland, to, say, observations in the Orongorongo Valley or the central King Country, without making unjustified assumptions.