Networks and disease spread in the aquaculture industry

Feb 2007 - Dec 2008

This project came about in collaboration with Fisheries Research Services at Aberdeen looking at the network of live fish movements in Scotland. Traditional models of disease spread tend to be based on simplistic assumptions as to how individuals (people, fish, etc.) contact each other, which may be appropriate when considering say, a pond of fish or a field of cattle, but which break down when considering larger or countrywide scales. Networks and their models (for demonstration, see figure) provide a powerful tool for studying such industries at bigger scales. A model of the fishing industry allows us to ask questions such as a) in the event of an outbreak in one part of the industry, where else is at risk? b) where are the most likely important sources for disease to potentially spread out from? and c) which links in the network are particularly important for surveillance to focus on? This project ties together epidemic simulation and network-based approaches. We are currently recruiting for a PhD student to work on this project.

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Figure: Simulated network with hierarchical structure with nodes size indicating
relative betweenness (an indicator of the importance of a node in the network structure).