skip to main content


Title: Host migration strategy is shaped by forms of parasite transmission and infection cost
Abstract

Most studies on the evolution of migration focus on food, mates and/or climate as factors influencing these movements, whereas negative species interactions such as predators, parasites and pathogens are often ignored. Although infection and its associated costs clearly have the potential to influence migration, thoroughly studying these interactions is challenging without a solid theoretical framework from which to develop testable predictions in natural systems.

Here, we aim to understand when parasites favour the evolution of migration.

We develop a general model which enables us to explore a broad range of biological conditions and to capture population and infection dynamics over both ecological and evolutionary time‐scales.

We show that when migration evolves depends on whether the costs of migration and infection are paid in reduced fecundity or survival. Also important are the parasite transmission mode and spatiotemporal dynamics of infection and recovery (if it occurs). Finally, we find that partial migration (where only a fraction of the population migrates) can evolve but only when parasite transmission is density‐dependent.

Our results highlight the critical, if overlooked, role of parasites in shaping long‐distance movement patterns, and suggest that infection should be considered alongside more traditional drivers of migration in both empirical and theoretical studies.

 
more » « less
Award ID(s):
1654609
NSF-PAR ID:
10460053
Author(s) / Creator(s):
 ;  ;  ;  ;
Publisher / Repository:
Wiley-Blackwell
Date Published:
Journal Name:
Journal of Animal Ecology
Volume:
88
Issue:
10
ISSN:
0021-8790
Format(s):
Medium: X Size: p. 1601-1612
Size(s):
p. 1601-1612
Sponsoring Org:
National Science Foundation
More Like this
  1. Abstract

    Numerous theoretical models have demonstrated that migration, a seasonal animal movement behaviour, can minimize the risks and costs of parasite infection. Past work on migration–infection interactions assumes migration is the only strategy available to organisms for dealing with the parasite infection, that is they migrate to a different environment to recover or escape from infection. Thus, migration is similar to the non‐spatial strategy of resistance, where hosts prevent infection or kill parasites once infected. However, an alternative defence strategy is to tolerate the infection and experience a lower cost to the infection. To our knowledge, no studies have examined how migration can change based on combining two host strategies (migration and tolerance) for dealing with parasites.

    In this paper, we aim to understand how both parasite transmission and infection tolerance can influence the host's migratory behaviour.

    We constructed a model that incorporates two host strategies (migration and tolerance) to understand whether allowing for tolerance affects the proportion of the population that migrates at equilibrium in response to infection.

    We show that the benefits of tolerance can either decrease or increase the host's migration. Also, if the benefit of migration is great, then individuals are more likely to migrate regardless of the presence of tolerance. Finally, we find that the transmission rate of parasite infection can either decrease or increase the tolerant host's migration, depending on the cost of migration.

    These findings highlight that adopting two defence strategies is not always beneficial to the hosts. Instead, a single strategy is often better, depending on the costs and benefits of the strategies and infection pressures. Our work further suggests that multiple host‐defence strategies as a potential explanation for the evolution of migration to minimize the parasite infection. Moreover, migration can also affect the ecological and evolutionary dynamics of parasite–host interactions.

     
    more » « less
  2. Abstract

    Predation on parasites is a common interaction with multiple, concurrent outcomes. Free‐living stages of parasites can comprise a large portion of some predators' diets and may be important resources for population growth. Predation can also reduce the density of infectious agents in an ecosystem, with resultant decreases in infection rates. While predator–parasite interactions likely vary with parasite transmission strategy, few studies have examined how variation in transmission mode influences contact rates with predators and the associated changes in consumption risk.

    To understand how transmission mode mediates predator–parasite interactions, we examined associations between an oligochaete predatorChaetogaster limnaeithat lives commensally on freshwater snails and nine trematode taxa that infect snails.Chaetogasteris hypothesized to consume active (i.e. mobile), free‐living stages of trematodes that infect snails (miracidia), but not the passive infectious stages (eggs); it could thus differentially affect transmission and infection prevalence of parasites, including those with medical or veterinary importance. Alternatively, when infection does occur,Chaetogastercan consume and respond numerically to free‐living trematode stages released from infected snails (cercariae). These two processes lead to contrasting predictions about whetherChaetogasterand trematode infection of snails correlate negatively (‘protective predation’) or positively (‘predator augmentation’).

    Here, we tested how parasite transmission mode affectedChaetogaster–trematode relationships using data from 20,759 snails collected across 4 years from natural ponds in California. Based on generalized linear mixed modelling, snails with moreChaetogasterwere less likely to be infected by trematodes that rely on active transmission. Conversely, infections by trematodes with passive infectious stages were positively associated with per‐snailChaetogasterabundance.

    Our results suggest that trematode transmission mode mediates the net outcome of predation on parasites. For trematodes with active infectious stages, predatoryChaetogasterlimited the risk of snail infection and its subsequent pathology (i.e. castration). For taxa with passive infectious stages, no such protective effect was observed. Rather, infected snails were associated with higherChaetogasterabundance, likely owing to the resource subsidy provided by cercariae. These findings highlight the ecological and epidemiological importance of predation on free‐living stages while underscoring the influence of parasite life history in shaping such interactions.

     
    more » « less
  3. Abstract

    Helminth parasites can have wide‐ranging, detrimental effects on host reproduction and survival. These effects are best documented in humans and domestic animals, while only a few studies in wild mammals have identified both the forces that drive helminth infection risk and their costs to individual fitness.

    Working in a well‐studied population of wild baboons (Papio cynocephalus) in the Amboseli ecosystem in Kenya, we pursued two goals, to (a) examine the costs of helminth infections in terms of female fertility and glucocorticoid hormone levels and (b) test how processes operating at multiple scales—from individual hosts to social groups and the population at large—work together to predict variation in female infection risk.

    To accomplish these goals, we measured helminth parasite burdens in 745 faecal samples collected over 5 years from 122 female baboons. We combine these data with detailed observations of host environments, social behaviours, hormone levels and interbirth intervals (IBIs).

    We found that helminths are costly to female fertility: females infected with more diverse parasite communities (i.e., higher parasite richness) exhibited longer IBIs than females infected by fewer parasite taxa. We also found that females exhibiting highTrichuris trichiuraegg counts also had high glucocorticoid levels. Female infection risk was best predicted by factors at the host, social group and population level: females facing the highest risk were old, socially isolated, living in dry conditions and infected with other helminths.

    Our results provide an unusually holistic understanding of the factors that contribute to inter‐individual differences in parasite infection, and they contribute to just a handful of studies linking helminths to host fitness in wild mammals.

     
    more » « less
  4. null (Ed.)
    Abstract An animal's social behaviour both influences and changes in response to its parasites. Here we consider these bidirectional links between host social behaviours and parasite infection, both those that occur from ecological vs evolutionary processes. First, we review how social behaviours of individuals and groups influence ecological patterns of parasite transmission. We then discuss how parasite infection, in turn, can alter host social interactions by changing the behaviour of both infected and uninfected individuals. Together, these ecological feedbacks between social behaviour and parasite infection can result in important epidemiological consequences. Next, we consider the ways in which host social behaviours evolve in response to parasites, highlighting constraints that arise from the need for hosts to maintain benefits of sociality while minimizing fitness costs of parasites. Finally, we consider how host social behaviours shape the population genetic structure of parasites and the evolution of key parasite traits, such as virulence. Overall, these bidirectional relationships between host social behaviours and parasites are an important yet often underappreciated component of population-level disease dynamics and host–parasite coevolution. 
    more » « less
  5. Abstract

    Changes to migration routes and phenology create novel contact patterns among hosts and pathogens. These novel contact patterns can lead to pathogens spilling over between resident and migrant populations. Predicting the consequences of such pathogen spillover events requires understanding how pathogen evolution depends on host movement behaviour. Following spillover, pathogens may evolve changes in their transmission rate and virulence phenotypes because different strategies are favoured by resident and migrant host populations. There is conflict in current theoretical predictions about what those differences might be. Some theory predicts lower pathogen virulence and transmission rates in migrant populations because migrants have lower tolerance to infection. Other theoretical work predicts higher pathogen virulence and transmission rates in migrants because migrants have more contacts with susceptible hosts.

    We aim to understand how differences in tolerance to infection and host pace of life act together to determine the direction of pathogen evolution following pathogen spillover from a resident to a migrant population.

    We constructed a spatially implicit model in which we investigate how pathogen strategy changes following the addition of a migrant population. We investigate how differences in tolerance to infection and pace of life between residents and migrants determine the effect of spillover on pathogen evolution and host population size.

    When the paces of life of the migrant and resident hosts are equal, larger costs of infection in the migrants lead to lower pathogen transmission rate and virulence following spillover. When the tolerance to infection in migrant and resident populations is equal, faster migrant paces of life lead to increased transmission rate and virulence following spillover. However, the opposite can also occur: when the migrant population has lower tolerance to infection, faster migrant paces of life can lead to decreases in transmission rate and virulence.

    Predicting the outcomes of pathogen spillover requires accounting for both differences in tolerance to infection and pace of life between populations. It is also important to consider how movement patterns of populations affect host contact opportunities for pathogens. These results have implications for wildlife conservation, agriculture and human health.

     
    more » « less