Novel pathogen introduction triggers rapid evolution in animal social movement strategies

Pratik Rajan Gupte*, Gregory F. Albery, Jakob Gismann, Amy Sweeny, Franz J. Weissing*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

1 Citation (Scopus)
31 Downloads (Pure)

Abstract

Animal sociality emerges from individual decisions on how to balance the costs and benefits of being sociable. Novel pathogens introduced into wildlife populations should increase the costs of sociality, selecting against gregariousness. Using an individual-based model that captures essential features of pathogen transmission among social hosts, we show how novel pathogen introduction provokes the rapid evolutionary emergence and coexistence of distinct social movement strategies. These strategies differ in how they trade the benefits of social information against the risk of infection. Overall, pathogen-risk-adapted populations move more and have fewer associations with other individuals than their pathogen-risk-naive ancestors, reducing disease spread. Host evolution to be less social can be sufficient to cause a pathogen to be eliminated from a population, which is followed by a rapid recovery in social tendency. Our conceptual model is broadly applicable to a wide range of potential host–pathogen introductions and offers initial predictions for the eco-evolutionary consequences of wildlife pathogen spillover scenarios and a template for the development of theory in the ecology and evolution of animals’ movement decisions.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere81805
Number of pages30
JournaleLife
Volume12
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 7-Aug-2023

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