Seasonality and the persistence and invasion of measles

Andrew J.K. Conlan, Bryan T. Grenfell

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

65 Scopus citations


The critical community size (CCS) for measles, which separates persistent from extinction-prone populations, is arguably the best understood stochastic threshold in ecology. Using simple models, we explore a relatively neglected relationship of how the CCS scales with birth rate. A predominantly positive relationship of persistence with birth rate is complicated by the accompanying dynamical transitions of the underlying deterministic process. We show that these transitions imply a lower CCS for high birth rate less developed countries and contrary to the experience in lower birth rate, industrial countries, the CCS may increase after vaccination. We also consider the evolutionary implications of the CCS for the origin of measles; this analysis explores how the deterministic and stochastic thresholds for invasion and persistence set limits on the mechanism by which this highly infectious pathogen could have successfully colonized its human host.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1133-1141
Number of pages9
JournalProceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences
Issue number1614
StatePublished - May 7 2007
Externally publishedYes

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • General Immunology and Microbiology
  • General Environmental Science
  • General Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology
  • General Agricultural and Biological Sciences


  • Birth rate
  • Critical community size
  • Invasion
  • Measles
  • Persistence
  • Vaccination


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