NCEAS Project 3820

Understanding the ecology and evolution of infectious diseases in mammalian mating and social systems

  • Sonia Altizer
  • Charles L. Nunn


ActivityDatesFurther Information
Working Group22nd—25th February 2001Participant List  
Working Group6th—10th September 2001Participant List  
Working Group7th—13th June 2002Participant List  

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Abstract
Variation in animal mating and social behavior has important consequences for the origin and persistence of infectious diseases. These behavioral processes determine local host density and govern the type and frequency of contacts that occur within and among groups of animals. Ecologists have made great progress in understanding infectious disease dynamics operating on ecological time scales, yet next to nothing is known about patterns of disease at broad evolutionary scales. Given the increasing availability of information on socio-ecological parameters and disease in wild populations, along with robust phylogenies, the time is right to integrate efforts across these levels of analysis. Thus, our interdisciplinary working group will coordinate empirical and theoretical approaches to investigate how host social organization and mating behavior affect the maintenance and spread of infectious diseases in mammals. We will use large datasets and phylogenies in three groups of mammals, primates, ungulates, and carnivores, to conduct phylogenetically controlled comparative studies and formulate predictive models of the consequences of variation in socio-ecological parameters for disease risk. Simultaneously, we will use computer simulations and population modeling techniques to generate predictions that can be examined with the comparative data. By filling the enormous gaps in our knowledge regarding the links between disease and mating and social systems, our study will identify key factors responsible for the dynamics and evolution of infectious diseases in animal populations.

TypeProducts of NCEAS Research
Journal Article Altizer, Sonia; Nunn, Charles L.; Thrall, Peter H.; Gittleman, John L.; Antonovics, Janis; Cunningham, Andrew A.; Dobson, Andrew P.; Ezenwa, Vanessa; Jones, Kate E.; Pedersen, Amy B.; Poss, Mary; Pulliam, Juliet. 2003. Social organization and parasite risk in mammals: Integrating theory and empirical studies. Annual Review of Ecology Evolution and Systematics. Vol: 34. Pages 517-547. (Abstract)
Data Set Altizer, Sonia; Nunn, Charles L.; Cunningham, Andrew A.; Ezenwa, Vanessa; Lindenfors, Patrik; Poss, Mary; Antonovics, Janis; Dobson, Andrew P.; Gittleman, John L.; Jones, Kate E.; Pedersen, Amy B.; Thrall, Peter H. 2005. The global mammal parasite database. (Online version)
Journal Article Altizer, Sonia; Nunn, Charles L.; Lindenfors, Patrik. 2007. Do threatened hosts have fewer parasites? A comparative study in primates. Journal of Animal Ecology. Vol: 76. Pages 304–314.
Journal Article Lindenfors, Patrik; Nunn, Charles L.; Jones, Kate E.; Cunningham, Andrew A.; Sechrest, Wes; Gittleman, John L. 2007. Parasite species richness in carnivors: Effects of host body mass, latitude, geographical range and population density. Global Ecology and Biogeography. Vol: 16(4). Pages 496-509.
Journal Article Nunn, Charles L. 2002. Spleen size, disease risk and sexual selection: A comparative study in primates. Evolutionary Ecology Research. Vol: 4. Pages 91-107.
Journal Article Nunn, Charles L.; Gittleman, John L.; Antonovics, Janis. 2003. A comparative study of white blood cell counts and disease risk in carnivores. Proceedings of the Royal Society B-Biological Sciences. Vol: 270. Pages 347-356.
Journal Article Nunn, Charles L. 2003. Behavioural defences against sexually transmitted diseases in primates. Animal Behaviour. Vol: 66(1). Pages 37-48. (Abstract)
Journal Article Nunn, Charles L.; Altizer, Sonia; Jones, Kate E.; Sechrest, Wes. 2003. Comparative tests of parasite species richness in primates. American Naturalist. Vol: 162(5). Pages 597-614.
Journal Article Nunn, Charles L.; Altizer, Sonia; Sechrest, Wes; Jones, Kate E.; Barton, Robert; Gittleman, John L. 2004. Parasites and the evolutionary diversification of primate clades. American Naturalist. Vol: 164. Pages S90-S103.
Book Chapter Nunn, Charles L.; Altizer, Sonia. 2004. Sexual selection, behavior and sexually transmitted diseases. Edited by Kappeler, P. M.; van Schaik, C. P.. Sexual Selection in Primates: New and Comparative Perspectives. Cambridge University Press. Cambridge. Pages 117-130.
Journal Article Nunn, Charles L.; Altizer, Sonia; Sechrest, Wes; Cunningham, Andrew A. 2005. Latitudinal gradients of parasite species richness in primates. Diversity and Distributions. Vol: 11. Pages 249–256.
Journal Article Nunn, Charles L.; Altizer, Sonia. 2005. The global mammal parasite database: An online resource for infectious disease records in wild primates. Evolutionary Anthropology. Vol: 14. Pages 1-2.
Journal Article Nunn, Charles L.; Thrall, Peter H.; Stewart, Kelly; Harcourt, Alexander H. 2008. Emerging infectious diseases and animal social systems. Evolutionary Ecology. Vol: 22. Pages 519–543.
Journal Article Pedersen, Amy B.; Altizer, Sonia; Poss, Mary; Cunningham, Andrew A.; Nunn, Charles L. 2005. Patterns of host specificity and transmission among parasites of wild primates. International Journal for Parasitology. Vol: 35. Pages 647–657.
Journal Article Pedersen, Amy B.; Jones, Kate E.; Nunn, Charles L.; Altizer, Sonia. 2007. Infectious diseases and extinction risk in wild mammals. Conservation Biology. Vol: 21(5). Pages 1269-1279.
Journal Article Vitone, Nick; Altizer, Sonia; Nunn, Charles L. 2004. Body size, diet and sociality influence the species richness of parasitic worms in anthropoid primates. Evoluationary Ecology Research. Vol: 6. Pages 183-199.