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Open AccessArticle

Modeling Raccoon (Procyon lotor) Habitat Connectivity to Identify Potential Corridors for Rabies Spread

USDA, APHIS, Wildlife Services, National Rabies Management Program, Concord, NH 03301, USA
Department of Health Management and Policy, University of New Hampshire, Durham, NH 03824, USA
USDA, APHIS, Wildlife Services, National Wildlife Research Center, Fort Collins, CO 80521, USA
National Center for Public Health (Insitituto Nacional de Salud), Capac Yupanqui 1400, Jesus Maria, Lima 15073, Peru
Department of Natural Resources and the Environment, University of New Hampshire, Durham, NH 03824, USA
Department of Earth Sciences, University of New Hampshire, Durham, NH 03824, USA
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Current address: USDA, APHIS, Wildlife Services, Concord, NH 03301, USA.
Current address: USGS, Alaska Science Center, Polar Bear Project, Anchorage, AK 99508, USA.
Current address: Department of Preventive Medicine and Public Health, Faculty of Medicine, Universidad Nacional Mayor de San Marcos, Av Grau s/n, Lima 15081, Peru.
Trop. Med. Infect. Dis. 2017, 2(3), 44;
Received: 31 May 2017 / Revised: 7 August 2017 / Accepted: 10 August 2017 / Published: 28 August 2017
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Rabies Symptoms, Diagnosis, Prophylaxis and Treatment)
PDF [1290 KB, uploaded 30 August 2017]


The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS), Wildlife Services National Rabies Management Program has conducted cooperative oral rabies vaccination (ORV) programs since 1997. Understanding the eco-epidemiology of raccoon (Procyon lotor) variant rabies (raccoon rabies) is critical to successful management. Pine (Pinus spp.)-dominated landscapes generally support low relative raccoon densities that may inhibit rabies spread. However, confounding landscape features, such as wetlands and human development, represent potentially elevated risk corridors for rabies spread, possibly imperiling enhanced rabies surveillance and ORV planning. Raccoon habitat suitability in pine-dominated landscapes in Massachusetts, Florida, and Alabama was modeled by the maximum entropy (Maxent) procedure using raccoon presence, and landscape and environmental data. Replicated (n = 100/state) bootstrapped Maxent models based on raccoon sampling locations from 2012–2014 indicated that soil type was the most influential variable in Alabama (permutation importance PI = 38.3), which, based on its relation to landcover type and resource distribution and abundance, was unsurprising. Precipitation (PI = 46.9) and temperature (PI = 52.1) were the most important variables in Massachusetts and Florida, but these possibly spurious results require further investigation. The Alabama Maxent probability surface map was ingested into Circuitscape for conductance visualizations of potential areas of habitat connectivity. Incorporating these and future results into raccoon rabies containment and elimination strategies could result in significant cost-savings for rabies management here and elsewhere. View Full-Text
Keywords: circuit theory; habitat suitability; Maxent; pine; Pinus; Procyon lotor; rabies; raccoon; risk model circuit theory; habitat suitability; Maxent; pine; Pinus; Procyon lotor; rabies; raccoon; risk model

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Algeo, T.P.; Slate, D.; Caron, R.M.; Atwood, T.; Recuenco, S.; Ducey, M.J.; Chipman, R.B.; Palace, M. Modeling Raccoon (Procyon lotor) Habitat Connectivity to Identify Potential Corridors for Rabies Spread. Trop. Med. Infect. Dis. 2017, 2, 44.

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