In the special section: Influenza: the state of our ignorance. Includes references
The outbreak of highly pathogenic avian influenza of the H5N1 subtype in Asia, which has subsequently spread to Russia, the Middle East, Europe, and Africa, has put increased focus on the role of wild birds in the persistence of influenza viruses. The ecology, epidemiology, genetics, and evolution of pathogens cannot be fully understood without taking into account the ecology of their hosts. Here, we review our current knowledge on global patterns of influenza virus infections in wild birds, discuss these patterns in the context of host ecology and in particular birds' behavior, and identify some important gaps in our current knowledge.