Transient disease dynamics across ecological scales

Theoretical Ecology
By: , and 



Analyses of transient dynamics are critical to understanding infectious disease transmission and persistence. Identifying and predicting transients across scales, from within-host to community-level patterns, plays an important role in combating ongoing epidemics and mitigating the risk of future outbreaks. Moreover, greater emphases on non-asymptotic processes will enable timely evaluations of wildlife and human diseases and lead to improved surveillance efforts, preventive responses, and intervention strategies. Here, we explore the contributions of transient analyses in recent models spanning the fields of epidemiology, movement ecology, and parasitology. In addition to their roles in predicting epidemic patterns and endemic outbreaks, we explore transients in the contexts of pathogen transmission, resistance, and avoidance at various scales of the ecological hierarchy. Examples illustrate how (i) transient movement dynamics at the individual host level can modify opportunities for transmission events over time; (ii) within-host energetic processes often lead to transient dynamics in immunity, pathogen load, and transmission potential; (iii) transient connectivity between discrete populations in response to environmental factors and outbreak dynamics can affect disease spread across spatial networks; and (iv) increasing species richness in a community can provide transient protection to individuals against infection. Ultimately, we suggest that transient analyses offer deeper insights and raise new, interdisciplinary questions for disease research, consequently broadening the applications of dynamical models for outbreak preparedness and management.

Publication type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Title Transient disease dynamics across ecological scales
Series title Theoretical Ecology
DOI 10.1007/s12080-021-00514-w
Volume 14
Year Published 2021
Language English
Publisher Springer
Contributing office(s) Western Ecological Research Center
Description 16 p.
First page 625
Last page 640
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