Upcoming talks

“Impact of human-provided food resources on infectious disease dynamics”
Daniel Becker
8 July 2015
International Association of Landscape Ecology World Congress
Portland Hilton
Portland, Oregon, USA

“Heterogeneity in patch quality buffers metapopulations from pathogen impacts”
Daniel Becker
13 August 2015
Ecological Society of America Annual Meeting
Baltimore Convention Center
Baltimore, Maryland, USA

New paper

Complex effects of dietary provisioning on wildlife disease dynamics 

reacBecker, D., Streicker, D.G., & Altizer (2015) Linking anthropogenic resources to wildlife-pathogen dynamics: a review and meta-analysis. Ecology Letters. doi: 10.1111/ele.12428

Abstract: Urbanisation and agriculture cause declines for many wildlife, but some species benefit from novel resources, especially food, provided in human-dominated habitats. Resulting shifts in wildlife ecology can alter infectious disease dynamics and create opportunities for cross-species transmission, yet predicting host–pathogen responses to resource provisioning is challenging. Factors enhancing transmission, such as increased aggregation, could be offset by better host immunity due to improved nutrition. Here, we conduct a review and meta-analysis to show that food provisioning results in highly heterogeneous infection outcomes that depend on pathogen type and anthropogenic food source. We also find empirical support for behavioural and immune mechanisms through which human-provided resources alter host exposure and tolerance to pathogens. A review of recent theoretical models of resource provisioning and infection dynamics shows that changes in host contact rates and immunity produce strong non-linear responses in pathogen invasion and prevalence. By integrating results of our meta-analysis back into a theoretical framework, we find provisioning amplifies pathogen invasion under increased host aggregation and tolerance, but reduces transmission if provisioned food decreases dietary exposure to parasites. These results carry implications for wildlife disease management and highlight areas for future work, such as how resource shifts might affect virulence evolution.

Table 1. Representative study systems and evidence for different mechanisms that might drive relationships between food and disease.

New arrival!

Welcome to Victoria Estacio! Vicky has a BSc from Queen Mary University in London and worked previously at the Instituto Nacional de Salud in Lima, Peru. She will be helping with data management and sample processing for serology and sequencing

New arrivals!

Welcome to Julio Benavides! Julio is a new postdoc who will be working on viral dynamics at the interface of bats and livestock in Peru and will be thinking a lot about inferring meaningful epidemiological processes from messy, perhaps observation-biased, data. He may also slowly convince everyone that we should be working on gorillas in Congo instead. Very glad to have you on board!

Also a belated welcome to John Claxton, who started as International Projects Manager in December and is making fantastic progress towards overcoming the hurdles of international research coordination and legal agreements. John joins us from the European Commission.

Upcoming talks

“Too much of a good thing: supplemental feeding alters infectious disease dynamics in urban-foraging wildlife”

Daniel Becker
5 January 2015
Society for Integrative and Comparative Biology Annual Meeting
Palm Beach Convention Center
West Palm Beach, Florida, USA

“Heterogeneity in patch quality buffers metapopulations from pathogen impacts”

Daniel Becker
17 January 2015
Graduate Student Symposium
Odum School of Ecology
Athens, Georgia, USA