The application of community ecology theory to co-infections in wildlife hosts

BioRxiv : the Preprint Server for Biology
Chloe Ramsay, J. R. Rohr


Priority effect theory, a foundational concept from community ecology, states that the order and timing of species arrival during species assembly can affect species composition. Although this theory has been applied to co-infecting parasite species, it has almost always been with a single time lag between co-infecting parasites. Thus, how the timing of parasite species arrival affects co-infections and disease remains poorly understood. To address this gap in the literature, we exposed post-metamorphic Cuban tree frogs (Osteopilus septentrionalis) to Ranavirus, the fungus Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis (Bd), a nematode Aplectana hamatospicula, or pairs of these parasites either simultaneously or sequentially at a range of time lags and quantified load of the secondary parasite and host growth, survival and parasite tolerance. Prior exposure to Bd or A. hamatospicula significantly increased viral loads relative to hosts singly infected with Ranavirus, whereas A. hamatospicula loads in hosts were higher when co-exposed to Bd than when co-exposed to Ranavirus. There was a significant positive relationship between time since Ranavirus infection and Bd load, and prior exposure to A. hamatospicula decreased Bd loads compared to simu...Continue Reading

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