Thesis subject

MSc thesis topic: Asian Swine fever prediction | what critical location may trigger outbreak in the Netherlands

Asian swine fever is a very dangerous disease that may lead to a wide destruction of domestic pigs if the these are infected. Currently (winter 2022) there are new outbreaks that already reached parts of eastern Germany.

The main vector of the Asian swine fever is the European swine. This species roam freely through most of Europe. However, in the Netherlands (NL) they do only live in fenced areas like de Veluwe area and National Park Meinweg. Wild swine are real pioneers and hard to manage because their obscured way of living. Behavourial data is scarce because the animal easily freed itself from trackers, prefer to live under dense canopies and are mainly active during dusk.

Because of the fenced home range in NL of the swines the management is rather strict regarding the population size. However location and amount of contacts between swines, swines and infected swines, and infected swines and farmed pigs, that may initiate swine fever outbreak, are rather unknown. In NL it is assumed that roaming boars migrate from Germany into the Netherlands, find opportunities to meet Dutch swine populations, infect swine which may become a risk factor. In NL the chance that an infected swine meet a pig is really small, so other mechanisms are involved. In this study we like to figure out some of these mechanisms to be able to classify locations of Asian Swine fever initiating risk.

Objectives

  • Review literature on swine life cycle, swine fever mechanism, swine management
  • Develop an Agent Based Model to simulate the infection mechanism to find critical locations
  • Visualize dynamically the results of different scenarios

Data

  • Swine numbers, land use / land cover data, pig farm data 

Methods

  • ABM by GAMA

Requirements

  • Interest in animal behaviour
  • Interest in cellular automata, agent based modelling, focal functions
  • Willing to learn and use GAMA

Theme(s): Modeling & visualization; human-space interaction