Tracking socioeconomic vulnerability using network analysis: insights from an avian influenza outbreak in an ostrich production network

Moore, Christine, Cumming, Graeme S., Slingsby, Jasper, and Grewar, John (2014) Tracking socioeconomic vulnerability using network analysis: insights from an avian influenza outbreak in an ostrich production network. PLoS ONE, 9 (1). e86973. pp. 1-12.

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Background: The focus of management in many complex systems is shifting towards facilitation, adaptation, building resilience, and reducing vulnerability. Resilience management requires the development and application of general heuristics and methods for tracking changes in both resilience and vulnerability. We explored the emergence of vulnerability in the South African domestic ostrich industry, an animal production system which typically involves 3-4 movements of each bird during its lifetime. This system has experienced several disease outbreaks, and the aim of this study was to investigate whether these movements have contributed to the vulnerability of this system to large disease outbreaks.

Methodology/Principal Findings: The ostrich production system requires numerous movements of birds between different farm types associated with growth (i.e. Hatchery to juvenile rearing farm to adult rearing farm). We used 5 years of movement records between 2005 and 2011 prior to an outbreak of Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza (H5N2). These data were analyzed using a network analysis in which the farms were represented as nodes and the movements of birds as links. We tested the hypothesis that increasing economic efficiency in the domestic ostrich industry in South Africa made the system more vulnerable to outbreak of Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza (H5N2). Our results indicated that as time progressed, the network became increasingly vulnerable to pathogen outbreaks. The farms that became infected during the outbreak displayed network qualities, such as significantly higher connectivity and centrality, which predisposed them to be more vulnerable to disease outbreak.

Conclusions/ Significance: Taken in the context of previous research, our results provide strong support for the application of network analysis to track vulnerability, while also providing useful practical implications for system monitoring and management.

Item ID: 40942
Item Type: Article (Research - C1)
ISSN: 1932-6203
Additional Information:

© 2014 Moore et al. This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited.

Funders: National Research Foundation of South Africa, James S. McDonnell Foundation
Date Deposited: 20 Oct 2015 00:41
FoR Codes: 07 AGRICULTURAL AND VETERINARY SCIENCES > 0707 Veterinary Sciences > 070704 Veterinary Epidemiology @ 50%
05 ENVIRONMENTAL SCIENCES > 0501 Ecological Applications > 050199 Ecological Applications not elsewhere classified @ 50%
SEO Codes: 83 ANIMAL PRODUCTION AND ANIMAL PRIMARY PRODUCTS > 8303 Livestock Raising > 830309 Poultry @ 50%
97 EXPANDING KNOWLEDGE > 970106 Expanding Knowledge in the Biological Sciences @ 50%
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