Prof Mike Hutchings

Research Interests

Mike Hutchings

Ecologist with a specific interest in the identification, characterisation and quantification of the key biological processes that drive disease persistence and spread in the livestock industries.

  • Research areas include:
  • The role of wildlife in the epidemiology of livestock disease;
  • The early detection of disease using animal behaviour;
  • The effects of host environment and farming practice on disease risk, persistence and spread;
  • The development and testing of disease control strategies (e.g. paratuberculosis, gastrointestinal parasitism, e-coli O157, bovine TB).

    PhD Student Topics

    • Zara Gerrard – Phage based diagnostics for early detection of paratuberculosis in dairy cattle
    • Sokratis Ptochos – Environmental change impacts on sheep parasitism
    • Jolinda Pollock – Interactive effects of probiotics, nutrition and genotype on resistance and resilience to enteric challenges in weaned pigs
    • Gustaf Rydevik – Hindcasting epidemiological histories from cross sectional data
    • Laura Walton – The ecology of wildlife disease surveillance
    • Catherine Lutton – Bovine TB host communities in Spain
    • Jonas Malmsten – Moose population and pathogen dynamics
    • Kirsty Hughes – Transmission and control of e-coli O157
    • Naomi Fox – The effects of climate change on livestock disease risk
    • Jamie Prentice – Biological drivers of the perturbation effect
    • Leo Zijerveld – New models of bovine TB dynamics and control in badger populations
    • Jo Hardstaff – TB risk to livestock across Europe
    • Maija Marsh – The effect of behaviour in disease transmission: Understanding RHDV dynamics in Australian rabbit populations
    • Lesley Smith – Herbivore grazing decisions in relation to parasite distributions in the environment
    • Monika Bohm – Interaction patterns and the potential for disease transmission in wildlife-livestock systems
    • Johanna Judge – Rabbits as a host of Mycobacterium avium subspecies paratuberculosis

    Disease in Livestock Ecosystems – Dynamics & Control (DILE-DAC) Masters Programme

    MSc/Dip/Cert in Disease in Livestock Ecosystems: Dynamics and Control

    Animal health is a key component in a number of the global grand challenges relating to disease control, food security and climate change. Consequently, there is a need for improvements in our ability to predict disease dynamics and control outbreaks.

    The MSc/Dip/Cert in Disease in Livestock Ecosystems: Dynamics and Control teaches students about the fundamental drivers of disease dynamics in livestock and wildlife systems. It focusses on the influence of biological processes (e.g. host behaviour, physiology, ecology) and environmental and management practices (e.g. husbandry, nutrition, livestock trade).

    DILE-DAC provides a detailed understanding of the biology driving disease persistence, prevalence, and spread, and explores how the biology scales up from individuals to populations. It explains how this interacts with agricultural management practices to determine the efficacy of disease control strategies and livestock production.

    The systems approach offers a way to frame disease challenges and problem solve disease risk at a range of scales (e.g. from veterinarians tackling specific on farm disease challenges to the consequences of climate change on disease risk).  This will enable students to identify drivers of disease outbreaks, and have an impact on animal health, welfare and productivity in their own region. Email:

    Example Projects

    • PrOPara. Tackling the parasitological challenges arising from organic farming practices - EU Core Organic Plus ERA-NET
    • Development and testing of Operational Models of Bovine Tuberculosis in British Cattle and Badgers - Defra
    • A systems modelling approach to the persistence and control of E. coli O157 – SG
    • Inferring and quantifying between-animal variation in population data, focussing on the genetic control of disease resistance - SG
    • Animal welfare and climate change: impacts, adaptations, mitigation and risks - Defra
    • A strategic review of recent past and current research programmes relating to the effects of environmental change on animal, plant and human health – SG
    • WildTech - Novel Technologies for Surveillance of Emerging and Re-emerging Infections of Wildlife - EU
    • To develop a cost effective and practical method to reduce E.coli O157 infection in cattle prior to slaughter - Defra
    • TB-Step. Strategies for the eradication of bovine tuberculosis - EU
    • Climate change impacts on the livestock sector - Defra
    • ParaTB-Tools - Development of improved tools for detection of paratuberculosis in livestock, M. paratuberculosis in food and for the assessment of the risk of human exposure - EU
    • Causes of local variation in the impact of RHDV - National Feral Animal Control Program (Australia)
    • VENoMYC – Veterinary network of laboratories research into improved diagnosis and epidemiology of Mycobacterial diseases - EU
    • Ecology of Disease: spatial hierarchy and agricultural systems biosecurity – SEERAD Senior Research Fellowship.
    • Role of rabbits and the environment in the epidemiology of paratuberculosis of farmed ruminants - SEERAD
    • The role of wildlife in the epidemiology of Mycobacterium avium subspecies paratuberculosis in domestic ruminants in Europe - EU
    • Understanding the route of TB transmission from badgers to cattle - MAFF
    • Role of wildlife in the epidemiology of M. a. paratuberculosis in ruminants - SEERAD

    Recent publications (last 5 years)

    • Fox, N.J., Marion, G., Davidson, R.S., White, P.C.L., Hutchings, M.R. (2015). Climate-driven tipping-points could lead to sudden, high-intensity parasite outbreaks. Royal Society Open Science 2 (5), 140296
    • Cowie, C.E., Hutchings, M.R., Barasona, J.A., Gortázar, C. Vicente, J., White P.C.L. (2015). Interactions between four species in a complex wildlife: livestock disease community: implications for Mycobacterium bovis maintenance and transmission. European Journal of Wildlife Research, 1-14
    • Cowie, C.E., Gortázar, C., White, P.C.L, Hutchings, M.R. & Vicente, J. (2015). Stakeholder opinions on the practicality of management interventions to control bovine tuberculosis. The Veterinary Journal, in press
    • Athanasiadou, S., Russell, K.M., Kaiser, P., Kanellos, T.,  Burgess, S.T.G.,  Mitchell, M.,  Clutton, E.,  Naylor, S.W., Low, C.J., Hutchings, M.R. & Sparks, N.H.C. (2015). Genome-wide transcriptomic analysis identifies pathways affected by the infusion of Clostridium perfringens culture supernatant in the duodenum of broilers in situ. Journal of Animal Science, in press.
    • Ciliberti, A., Gavier-Widén, D., Yon, L., Hutchings, M.R. & Artois, M. (2014). Prioritisation of wildlife pathogens to be targeted in European surveillance programmes: Expert-based risk analysis focus on ruminants. Preventative Veterinary medicine,
    • Corbishley, A., Ahmad, N.I., Hughes, K., Hutchings, M.R., McAteer, S.P., Connelley, T.K., Brown, H.,  Gally, D.L., McNeilly, T.N.. (2014). Strain dependent cellular immune responses in cattle following Escherichia coli O157: H7 colonisation. Infection and Immunity, 82 (12), 5117-5131.
    • Prentice, J.C., Marion, G., White, P.C.L., Davidson, R.S. & Hutchings, M.R. (2014). Demographic processes drive increases in wildlife disease following population reduction. PLoS ONE, 9 (5), e86563.
    • Valiakos, G., Papaspyropoulos, K., Giannakopoulos, A., Birtsas, P., Tsiodras, S., Hutchings, M.R., Spyrou, V., Pervanidou, D., Athanasiou, L., Papadopoulos, N., Tsokana, C., Baka, A., Manolakou, K., Chatzopoulos, D., Artois, M., Yon, L., Hannant, D., Petrovska, L., Hadjichristodoulou, C., Billinis, C. (2014). Use of wild bird surveillance, human case data and GIS spatial analysis for predicting spatial distributions of West Nile virus in Greece. PLoS ONE, 9 (5), e96935.
    • Hestvik, G., Warns-Petit, E., Smith, LA., Fox, NJ., Uhlhorn H., Artois, M., Hannant, D., Hutchings, MR., Mattsson, R., Yon, L., Gavier-Widen, D. (2014). The status of tularemia in Europe in a one-health context: a review. Epidemiology & Infection, 1-24.
    • Malmsten, J., Söderquist, L., Thulin, C., Gavier Widén, D., Yon, L., Hutchings, M.R. & Dalin, A. (2014). Reproductive characteristics in female Swedish moose (Alces alces), with emphasis on puberty, timing of oestrus, and mating. Acta Veterinaria Scandinavica, 56:23
    • Hardstaff, J.L., Marion, G., Hutchings, M.R. & White, P.C.L. (2014). Evaluating the tuberculosis hazard posed to cattle from wildlife across Europe. Research in Veterinary Science, 97, S86-S93.
    • Malmsten, J., Gavier Widen, D., Rydevik, G., Yon, L., Hutchings, M.R., Thulin, C.G., Soderquist, L., Aspan, A., Stuen, S. & Dalin, A.M. (2014). Temporal and spatial variation in Anaplasma phagocytphilum infection in Swedish moose (Alces alces). Epidemiology & Infection, 142 (06), 1205-1213.
    • Fox, N.J., Marion, G., Davidson, R.S., White, P.C.L. & Hutchings, M.R. (2013). Modelling parasite transmission in a grazing system: The importance of host behaviour and immunity. PLoS ONE, e77996
    • Anderson, L.G., Gortazar, C., Vicente, J., Hutchings, M.R., White, P.C.L. (2013). Modelling the effectiveness of vaccination in controlling bovine tuberculosis in wild boar. Wildlife Research, 40, 367-376.
    • Shaughnessy, L.J., Smith, L.A., Evans, J., Anderson, D., Caldow, G., Marion, G., Low, J.C. & Hutchings, M.R. (2013). High prevalence of paratuberculosis in rabbits is associated with difficulties in controlling the disease in cattle. The Veterinary Journal, 198, 267-270.
    • Cowie, C.E., Beck, BB., Gortazar, C., Vicente, J., Hutchings, M.R., Moran, D. & White P.C.L. (2013). Risk factors for the detected presence of Mycobacterium bovis in south central Spain. European Journal of Wildlife Research, 60 (1), 113-123.
    • Hardstaff, J.L., Bulling, M.T., Marion, G., Hutchings, M.R. & White, P.C.L. (2013). Modelling the impact of vaccination on tuberculosis in badgers. Epidemiology & Infection, 201, 1417-1427.
    • Davidson, R.S., McKendrick, I.J., Wood, J.C., Marion, G., Greig, A., Stevenson, K., Sharp, M., Hutchings, M.R. (2012). Accounting for uncertainty in model based risk assessment: paratuberculosis control in dairy herds. BMC Veterinary Research, 8, 159.
    • Hardstaff, J.L., Bulling, M.T., Marion, G., Hutchings, M.R. & White, P.C.L (2012). Impact of external sources of infection on the dynamics of bovine tuberculosis in modelled badger populations. BMC Veterinary Research, 8, 52.
    • Bessell, P.R., Orton, R., White, P.C.L., Hutchings, M.R. & Kao, R.R. (2012).Risk factors for bovine Tuberculosis at the national level in Great Britain. BMC Veterinary Research, 8, 91.
    • Fox, N.J., Marion, G., Davidson, R.S., White, P.C.L. & Hutchings, M.R. (2012) Livestock helminths in a changing climate: approaches and restrictions to meaningful predictions. Animals 2, 93-107.
    • Doeschl-Wilson, A.B., Davidson, R., Conington, J., Roughsedge, T., Hutchings, M.R. & Villanueva, B. (2011). Implications of host genetic variation on the risk and prevalence of infectious diseases transmitted through the environment. Genetics, 188, 683-693.
    • Marsh, M.K., Hutchings, M.R., Mcleod, S.R. & White P.C.L. (2011). Spatial and temporal heterogeneities in the contact behaviour of rabbits Behavioral Ecology & Sociobiology, 65, 183-195.
    • Fox, N.J., White, P.C.L., McClean, C., Marion, G., Evans, A. & Hutchings, M.R. (2011). Predicting impacts of climate change on Fasciola hepatica risk. PLoS One, e16126.
    • Marsh, M.K., McLeod, S.R., Hutchings, M.R. & White, PCL. (2011). Use of proximity loggers and network analysis to quantify social interactions in free-ranging wild rabbit populations. Wildlife Research, 38, 1-12.

    Prof Mike Hutchings

    Professor of Disease Systems / Team Leader - Disease Systems

    Address: Animal & Veterinary Sciences, SRUC, Roslin Institute Building, Easter Bush, Midlothian EH25 9RG

    Telephone: 0131 651 9340

    Fax: 0131 535 3121