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Metapopulations and the spread and prevalence of parasites.
Lopez, Jorge*,1, Gallinot, Lauren1, Wade, Michael1, 1 Indiana University, Bloomington, IN
ABSTRACT- Spatial structure is a natural feature in some natural system, and is increasingly important because fragmentation of populations is becoming more prevalent. Fragmentation creates groups of small populations that may be connected by migration. Hosts may be a scare resource in small populations decreasing parasite prevalence and increasing the likelihood of parasite extinction. Conversely, recolonization may increase parasite prevalence and decrease the chances of parasite extinction. We analyzed the effects of population size and migration rate on the number of infected populations in a metapopulation, the proportion of infected hosts per population, and the abundance of parasites per host. We found that the number of infected populations is positively related to migration rate. The prevalence of parasites in a population is positively related to the amount of time since the population became infected and may also depend on population size. Both population size and migration rate are inversely related to the number of parasites per individual. Metapopulation structure plays an important role in host-parasite dynamics. Our results support predictions from the theory.
KEY WORDS: host parasite interaction, metapopulation dynamics, disease prevalence, spatial structure