Dynamics of a multihost pathogen in a carnivore community


*Correspondence author. E-mail: craft004@umn.edu


  • 1We provide the first theoretical analysis of multihost disease dynamics to incorporate social behaviour and contrasting rates of within- and between-group disease transmission.
  • 2A stochastic susceptible–infected–recovered (SIR) model of disease transmission involving one to three sympatric species was built to mimic the 1994 Serengeti canine distemper virus outbreak, which infected a variety of carnivores with widely ranging social structures. The model successfully mimicked the erratic and discontinuous spatial pattern of lion deaths observed in the Serengeti lions under a reasonable range of parameter values, but only when one to two other species repeatedly transmitted the virus to the lion population.
  • 3The outputs from our model suggest several principles that will apply to most directly transmitted multihost pathogens: (i) differences in social structure can significantly influence the size, velocity and spatial pattern of a multihost epidemic; and (ii) social structures that permit higher intraspecific neighbour-to-neighbour transmission are the most likely to transmit disease to other species; whereas (iii) species with low neighbour-to-neighbour intraspecific transmission suffer the greatest costs from interspecific transmission.