Stochasticity and Infectious Disease Dynamics: Density and Weather Effects on a Fungal Insect Pathogen.

Stochasticity and Infectious Disease Dynamics: Density and Weather Effects on a Fungal Insect Pathogen. Am Nat. 2020 Mar;195(3):504-523 Authors: Kyle CH, Liu J, Gallagher ME, Dukic V, Dwyer G Abstract In deterministic models of epidemics, there is a host abundance threshold above which the introduction of a few infected individuals leads to a severe epidemic. Studies of weather-driven animal pathogens often assume that abundance thresholds will be overwhelmed by weather-driven stochasticity, but tests of this assumption are lacking. We collected observational and experimental data for a fungal pathogen, Entomophaga maimaiga, that infects the gypsy moth, Lymantria dispar. We used an advanced statistical-computing algorithm to fit mechanistic models to our data, such that different models made different assumptions about the effects of host density and weather on E. maimaiga epizootics (epidemics in animals). We then used Akaike information criterion analysis to choose the best model. In the best model, epizootics are driven by a combination of weather and host density, and the model does an excellent job of explaining the data, whereas models that allow only for weather effects or only for density-dependent effects do a poor job of explaining the data. Density-dependent transmission in our best model produces a host density threshold, but this threshold is strongly blurred by the stochastic effects of weather. Our work shows that host-abundance thresholds...
Source: The American Naturalist - Category: Biology Authors: Tags: Am Nat Source Type: research

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