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AbstractManaging infectious disease demands understanding pathogen transmission. In Britain, transmission of Mycobacterium bovis from badgers (Meles meles) to cattle hinders the control of bovine tuberculosis (TB), but the mechanism of such transmission is uncertain. As badgers and cattle seldom interact directly, transmission might occur in their shared environment through contact with contamination such as faeces, urine and saliva. We used concurrent GPS collar tracking of badgers and cattle at four sites in Cornwall, southwest Britain, to test whether each species used locations previously occupied by the other species, within the survival time of M. bovis bacteria. Although analyses of the same data set showed that badgers avoided cattle, we found no evidence that this avoidance persisted over time: neither GPS‐collared badgers nor cattle avoided space which had been occupied by the other species in the preceding 36 h. Defining a contact event as an animal being located <5 m from space occupied by the other species within the previous 36 h, we estimated that a herd of 176 cattle (mean herd size in our study areas) would contact badgers at least 6.0 times during an average 24‐h period. Similarly, we estimated that a social group of 3.5 badgers (mean group size in our study areas) would contact cattle at least 0.76 times during an average night. Such frequent successive use of the same shared space, within the survival time of M. bovis bacteria, could potentially facilitate M. bovis transmission via the environment.

Original publication




Journal article


Journal of Zoology



Publication Date





132 - 142