Implications of spatial patterns of roosting and movements of American robins for west Nile virus transmission

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The arrival of West Nile virus (WNV) in North America has led to interest in the interaction between birds, the amplification hosts of WNV, and Culex mosquitoes, the primary WNV vectors. American robins (Turdus migratorius) are particularly important amplification hosts of WNV, and because the vector Culex mosquitoes are primarily nocturnal and feed on roosting birds, robin communal roosting behavior may play an important role in the transmission ecology of WNV. Using data from 43 radio-tracked individuals, we determined spatial and temporal patterns of robin roosting behavior, and how these patterns related to the distribution of WNV-infected mosquitoes. Use of the communal roost and fidelity to foraging areas was highly variable both within and among individual robins, and differed markedly from patterns documented in a previous study of robin roosting. Although there were clear seasonal patterns to both robin roosting and WNV occurrence, there was no significant relationship between communal roosting by robins and temporal or spatial patterns of WNV-positive mosquitoes. Our results suggest that, although robins may be important as WNV hosts, communal roosts are not necessarily important for WNV amplification. Other factors, including the availability and distribution of high-quality mosquito habitat and favorable weather for mosquito reproduction, may influence the importance of robin roosts for local WNV amplification and transmission.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)877-885
Number of pages9
JournalVector-Borne and Zoonotic Diseases
Issue number10
StatePublished - Oct 1 2012


  • Age-dependent behavior
  • Communal roosting
  • Culex mosquitoes
  • Disease transmission
  • Turdus migratorius

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Microbiology
  • Infectious Diseases
  • Virology


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