DOI: 10.1101/472902Nov 19, 2018Paper

Spatial scale moderates the shape of the biodiversity-disease relationship

BioRxiv : the Preprint Server for Biology
Fletcher Halliday, Jason R Rohr


Diverse host communities commonly inhibit the spread of parasites in studies at small and intermediate scales, leading some to suggest that conserving biodiversity could help control infectious diseases. However, the generality of this "dilution effect" remains controversial. First, most studies assume a linear, monotonic relationship between biodiversity and disease, though the actual shape is unknown. Second, most studies are conducted at a single spatial scale, though biotic interactions are often scale-dependent, thus spatial scale might determine the direction of biodiversity-disease relationships. Third, most studies focus only on a small range of possible diversity levels, though the direction of biodiversity-disease relationships may change outside of this range. By analyzing 231 biodiversity-disease relationships on 77 parasite species, we provide broad evidence that biodiversity-disease relationships are generally non-linear and moderated by spatial scale; biodiversity generally inhibits disease at local scales (<100 km2) and amplifies disease at regional scales (>1,000,000 km2). These effects did not depend on any tested host, parasite, or study characteristics, though the spatial scale of a study was often related t...Continue Reading

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