Novel pathogen introduction rapidly alters the evolution of movement, restructuring animal societies

  • Pratik Gupte (Speaker)
  • Gregory Albery (Contributor)
  • Gismann, J. (Contributor)
  • Amy Sweeny (Contributor)
  • Weissing, F. (Contributor)

Activity: Talk and presentationAcademic presentationAcademic


Animal social interactions are the outcomes of evolved strategies that integrate the costs and benefits of being sociable. Using a novel mechanistic, evolutionary, individual-based simulation model, we examine how animals balance the risk of pathogen transmission against the benefits of social information about resource patches, and how this determines the emergent structure of spatial social networks. We study a scenario in which a fitness-reducing infectious pathogen is introduced into a population which has initially evolved movement rules in its absence. Pathogen introduction leads to a rapid evolutionary shift, within only a few generations, in animal social-movement strategies. Generally, animals adopt a dynamic social distancing behaviour, trading more movement away from individuals (and less intake) for lower infection risk, but there is considerable individual variation in these social movement strategies. Pathogen-adapted populations are more widely dispersed over the landscape, and thus have less clustered social networks than their pre-introduction, pathogen-naive ancestors. Running simple epidemiological models on these emergent social networks, we show that diseases do indeed spread more slowly through pathogen-adapted animal societies. The post-introduction, pathogen-adapted movement strategy mix is stongly influenced by a combination of landscape productivity and disease cost. Our model suggests how the introduction of an infectious pathogen to a population rapidly changes social structure. While such events might make populations more resilient to future disease outbreaks, this is at the cost of social information benefits. Overall, we offer both a general modelling framework and initial predictions for the evolutionary consequences of wildlife pathogen spillovers.
Event titleInternational Society for Behavioral Ecology Congress 2022
Event typeConference
Conference number18
LocationStockholm, SwedenShow on map
Degree of RecognitionInternational