Timescale reverses the relationship between host density and infection risk

Tara Stewart Merrill, Carla Cáceres, Samantha Gray, Veronika Laird, Zoe Schnitzler & Julia Buck
Host density shapes infection risk through two opposing phenomena. First, when infective stages are subdivided among multiple hosts, greater host densities decrease infection risk through “safety in numbers”. Hosts, however, represent resources for parasites, and greater host availability also fuels parasite reproduction. Hence, host density increases infection risk through “density-dependent transmission”. Theory proposes that these phenomena are not disparate outcomes but occur over different timescales. That is, higher host densities may reduce short-term infection risk,...
1 citation reported since publication in 2022.
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