Body-size scaling in an SEI model of wildlife diseases

Luca Bolzoni, Giulio A. De Leo, Marino Gatto, Andrew P. Dobson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

21 Scopus citations


A number of wildlife pathogens are generalist and can affect different host species characterized by a wide range of body sizes. In this work we analyze the role of allometric scaling of host vital and epidemiological rates in a Susceptible-Exposed-Infected (SEI) model. Our analysis shows that the transmission coefficient threshold for the disease to establish in the population scales allometrically (exponent = 0.45) with host size as well as the threshold at which limit cycles occur. In contrast, the threshold of the basic reproduction number for sustained oscillations to occur is independent of the host size and is always greater than 5. In the case of rabies, we show that the oscillation periods predicted by the model match those observed in the field for a wide range of host sizes. The population dynamics of the SEI model is also analyzed in the case of pathogens affecting multiple coexisting hosts with different body sizes. Our analyses show that the basic reproduction number for limit cycles to occur depends on the ratio between host sizes, that the oscillation period in a multihost community is set by the smaller species dynamics, and that intermediate interspecific disease transmission can stabilize the epidemic occurrence in wildlife communities.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)374-382
Number of pages9
JournalTheoretical Population Biology
Issue number3
StatePublished - May 2008

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics


  • Allometry
  • Bifurcation analysis
  • Multihost
  • SEI model
  • Wildlife diseases


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