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Predictive Modeling of the Disease Dynamics of the Honeybee-Varroa destructor-Virus Systems

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Title: Predictive Modeling of the Disease Dynamics of the Honeybee-Varroa destructor-Virus Systems
Author: Ratti, Vardayani
Department: Department of Mathematics and Statistics
Program: Mathematics and Statistics
Advisor: Eberl, Hermann J.
Abstract: Western honeybees, Apis mellifera, are currently affected by abrupt depopulation worldwide which affects the economy as bees are the most valuable pollinators of agricultural crops. Many factors are suspected to be involved, either alone or in combination. Parasites and pathogens are considered as principal causes, in partic- ular the ectoparasitic mite Varroa destructor and associated viruses. In this disser- tation, we present SIR-type mathematical models of honeybee-varroa mite-Acute Bee Paralysis Virus (ABPV) systems. In particular, we (1) study the model by tak- ing into account the seasonal variations, (2) investigate the effect of homing failure on a honeybee colony infested with mites and virus and, (3) formulate the model in terms of discrete-continuous system in order to apply it to the process of swarming as a preliminary step. A combination of analytical techniques and computational methods were employed to study the problem. Our model simulations suggest that in particular the transition from winter to spring is critical for the survival of hon- eybee colonies. If the bee population is not strong enough in winter to survive in the spring, the colony collapses in the winter. This pattern is also observed in nat- ural honeybee colonies. Our model implies that a mite and ABPV infested colony can sometimes function properly for several years but then fail suddenly. It is also observed that increased forager loss due to external causes may trigger the colony die off if the colony is infested with the varroa mite and ABPV. Overall, we find that the use of the infectious disease modeling framework is extremely valuable in understanding the long term dynamics of honeybee colonies infested with varroa mites and viruses.
Date: 2015-08
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