Modelling Bank Vole Population Dynamics as A Function of Climate Variables
Wildlife-originated zoonotic diseases are a major contributor to emerging infectious diseases. Understanding the role of climate factors in shaping the dynamics of the natural host population is a central challenge within the field of population ecology. Bank voles (Myodes glareolus) are reservoirs of the Puumala hantavirus (PUUV), which can cause the disease nephropathia epidemica (NE) in human. In this study we model the bank vole population dynamics in Belgium and Finland using a multiple–input, singleoutput (MISO) transfer function. The output of the MISO models was the number of bank vole and the inputs were monthly North Atlantics Oscillation (NAO), average monthly precipitation (mm), and temperature (°C). In a first step, the bank vole populations in Belgium were modelled based on data from 1976 till 1982 with a of 0.66. For Finland the modelled bank vole density dynamics using data from 1995-2001 resulted in a of 0.78. In a next step, the MISO models were validated using bank vole populations time series from 2009 to 2011 ( of 0.68) for Belgium and from 2002 till 2008 ( of 0.66) for Finland. Despite the difference in bank vole population dynamics between the Western European temperate zone (such as Belgium) and boreal zones (such as Finland), the MISO model managed to describe the temporal characteristics of the two time series and their different dynamic mechanisms. Such modelling approach might be used as a step towards the development of new tools for the prediction of future NE outbreaks.