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Interactions between tick and transmitted pathogens evolved to minimise competition through nested and coherent networks

AuthorsEstrada-Peña, Agustín; Fuente, José de la ; Ostfeld, Richard S.; Cabezas-Cruz, Alejandro
Issue Date20-May-2015
PublisherNature Publishing Group
CitationScientific Reports 5: 10361 (2015)
AbstractNatural foci of ticks, pathogens, and vertebrate reservoirs display complex relationships that are key to the circulation of pathogens and infection dynamics through the landscape. However, knowledge of the interaction networks involved in transmission of tick-borne pathogens are limited because empirical studies are commonly incomplete or performed at small spatial scales. Here, we applied the methodology of ecological networks to quantify >14,000 interactions among ticks, vertebrates, and pathogens in the western Palearctic. These natural networks are highly structured, modular, coherent, and nested to some degree. We found that the large number of vertebrates in the network contributes to its robustness and persistence. Its structure reduces interspecific competition and allows ample but modular circulation of transmitted pathogens among vertebrates. Accounting for domesticated hosts collapses the network' s modular structure, linking groups of hosts that were previously unconnected and increasing the circulation of pathogens. This framework indicates that ticks and vertebrates interact along the shared environmental gradient, while pathogens are linked to groups of phylogenetically close reservoirs.
Publisher version (URL)https://doi.org/10.1038/srep10361
Identifiersissn: 2045-2322
Appears in Collections:(IREC) Artículos
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