Pathogen Interactions, Population Cycles, and Phase Shifts


Lello J, Norman R, Boag B, Hudson PJ & Fenton A (2008) Pathogen Interactions, Population Cycles, and Phase Shifts. American Naturalist, 171 (2), pp. 176-182.;

Interspecific pathogen interactions can profoundly affect pathogen population dynamics and the efficacy of control strategies. However, many pathogens exhibit cyclic abundance patterns (e.g. seasonality) and temporal asynchrony between interacting pathogens has the potential to reduce the impact of those interactions. Here we use an extension of our previously published model to investigate the effects of cyclic abundance patterns on pathogen interaction. We demonstrate that for interactions mediated through host immunity, immune memory can maintain the impact of an interaction even when the effector pathogen abundance is low or the pathogen is absent. Paradoxically, immune memory can result in pathogens interacting more strongly when temporally out of phase. We find that interactions between species can not only alter pathogen abundance but can also result in changes to the temporal pattern of the affected species. We further demonstrate that this phenomenon may be observed in a natural host / pathogen data set. Given that there is both a continuing debate as to the relevance of pathogen interactions in natural systems and increasing concern regarding treatment of coinfections of veterinary and medical importance, both the discovery of this measurable shift in cycle in the empirical data and the mechanism by which we identified the shift are important. Finally, as the model structure used here is analogous to simple predator-prey system models we also consider the consequences of these findings in the context of that system.

population cycle; phase shifts; pathogens; interspecific interactions; Plant-pathogen relationships.; Interspecific interactions

American Naturalist: Volume 171, Issue 2

Publication date29/02/2008
Publication date online11/12/2007
PublisherUniversity of Chicago Press
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