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Climate disruption and parasite–host dynamics: patterns and processes associated with warming and the frequency of extreme climatic events

  • P.J. Hudson (a1), I.M. Cattadori (a1), B. Boag (a1) and A.P. Dobson (a2)
  • DOI:
  • Published online: 22 February 2007

Levels of parasitism and the dynamics of helminth systems is subject to the impact of environmental conditions such that we may expect long term increases in temperature will increase the force of infection and the parasite's basic reproduction number, R0. We postulate that an increase in the force of infection will only lead to an increase in mean intensity of adults when adult parasite mortality is not determined by acquired immunity. Preliminary examination of long term trends of parasites of rabbits and grouse confirm these predictions. Parasite development rate increases with temperature and while laboratory studies indicate this is linear some recent studies indicate that this may be non-linear and would have an important impact on R0. Warming would also reduce the selective pressure for the development of arrestment and this would increase R0 so that in systems like the grouse and Trichostrongylus tenuis this would increase the instability and lead to larger disease outbreaks. Extreme climatic events that act across populations appear important in synchronizing transmission and disease outbreaks, so it is speculated that climate disruption will lead to increased frequency and intensity of disease outbreaks in parasite populations not regulated by acquired immunity.

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  • EISSN: 1475-2697
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