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This content will become publicly available on January 1, 2024

Title: Variation in herbivore space use: comparing two savanna ecosystems with different anthrax outbreak patterns in southern Africa
Background The distribution of resources can affect animal range sizes, which in turn may alter infectious disease dynamics in heterogenous environments. The risk of pathogen exposure or the spatial extent of outbreaks may vary with host range size. This study examined the range sizes of herbivorous anthrax host species in two ecosystems and relationships between spatial behavior and patterns of disease outbreaks for a multi-host environmentally transmitted pathogen. Methods We examined range sizes for seven host species and the spatial extent of anthrax outbreaks in Etosha National Park, Namibia and Kruger National Park, South Africa, where the main host species and numbers of cases differ. We evaluated host range sizes using the local convex hull method at different temporal scales, within-individual temporal range overlap, and relationships between ranging behavior and species contributions to anthrax cases in each park. We estimated the spatial extent of annual anthrax mortalities and evaluated whether the extent was correlated with case numbers of a given host species. Results Range size differences among species were not linearly related to anthrax case numbers. In Kruger the main host species had small range sizes and high range overlap, which may heighten exposure when outbreaks occur within their ranges. However, different patterns were observed in Etosha, where the main host species had large range sizes and relatively little overlap. The spatial extent of anthrax mortalities was similar between parks but less variable in Etosha than Kruger. In Kruger outbreaks varied from small local clusters to large areas and the spatial extent correlated with case numbers and species affected. Case numbers of secondary host species with larger range sizes were positively correlated with the spatial extent of outbreaks in both parks. Conclusions Our results provide new information on the spatiotemporal structuring of ranging movements of anthrax host species in two ecosystems. The results linking anthrax dynamics to host space use are correlative, yet suggest that, though partial and proximate, host range size and overlap may be contributing factors in outbreak characteristics for environmentally transmitted pathogens.  more » « less
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Movement ecology
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National Science Foundation
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  1. Abstract

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