Extending the principles of community ecology to address the epidemiology of hostpathogen systems

Robert D. Holt, Andrew P. Dobson

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter

6 Scopus citations


Most emerging diseases involve more than one host, and many involve complex host-pathogen communities. The epidemiology of host-pathogen communities is explored through the analysis of 'community modules' or small sets of interacting species. Relevant community modules include parasite chains and multiple parasite species are linked through competition for shared hosts. The authors analyze pathogen transmission dynamics in several types of community module; review mechanisms for parasite coexistence; and develop a series of simple models to elucidate these mechanisms. Their models and analyses provide a conceptual foundation and introduction to analytical tools that can be applied to many hostpathogen systems. One straightforward tool developed is isocline analysis, which allows for a qualitative description of the conditions required for the invasion of one or more parasite species given a fixed host density. Additional analyses involve the consideration of the ratio of inter- to intraspecific interactions, and its effect on host and parasite coexistence.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationDisease Ecology
Subtitle of host publicationCommunity Structure and Pathogen Dynamics
PublisherOxford University Press
ISBN (Electronic)9780191717871
ISBN (Print)9780198567080
StatePublished - Sep 1 2007

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • General Agricultural and Biological Sciences


  • Coexistence
  • Community modules
  • Competition
  • Disease
  • Epidemiology
  • Invasion
  • Isocline
  • Parasite
  • Pathogen
  • Transmission


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