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Philos Trans R Soc Lond B Biol Sci. 2017 May 5;372(1719). pii: 20160088. doi: 10.1098/rstb.2016.0088.

Global change, parasite transmission and disease control: lessons from ecology.

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School of Biosciences, Cardiff University, Cardiff CF10 3AX, UK
Department of Neuroscience, Psychology and Behaviour, University of Leicester, Leicester LE1 7RH, UK.
The James Hutton Institute, Invergowrie, Dundee DD2 5DA, UK.
School of Biosciences, Cardiff University, Cardiff CF10 3AX, UK.
School of Veterinary Sciences, University of Bristol, Bristol BS40 5DU, UK.
Grantham Institute - Climate Change and the Environment, Faculty of Natural Sciences, Imperial College London, Exhibition Road, London SW7 2AZ, UK.
Department of Biodiversity and Molecular Ecology, Centre for Research and Innovation, Fondazione Edmund Mach, Via E. Mach 1, 38010 S. Michele all'Adige, Trentino, Italy.
School of Biology, University of Leeds, Leeds LS2 9JT, UK.
Vector-borne Viral Diseases Programme, The Pirbright Institute, Ash Road, Pirbright, Woking GU24 0NF, UK.
School of Medicine, Pharmacy and Health, Durham University, Durham TS17 6BH, UK.


Parasitic infections are ubiquitous in wildlife, livestock and human populations, and healthy ecosystems are often parasite rich. Yet, their negative impacts can be extreme. Understanding how both anticipated and cryptic changes in a system might affect parasite transmission at an individual, local and global level is critical for sustainable control in humans and livestock. Here we highlight and synthesize evidence regarding potential effects of 'system changes' (both climatic and anthropogenic) on parasite transmission from wild host-parasite systems. Such information could inform more efficient and sustainable parasite control programmes in domestic animals or humans. Many examples from diverse terrestrial and aquatic natural systems show how abiotic and biotic factors affected by system changes can interact additively, multiplicatively or antagonistically to influence parasite transmission, including through altered habitat structure, biodiversity, host demographics and evolution. Despite this, few studies of managed systems explicitly consider these higher-order interactions, or the subsequent effects of parasite evolution, which can conceal or exaggerate measured impacts of control actions. We call for a more integrated approach to investigating transmission dynamics, which recognizes these complexities and makes use of new technologies for data capture and monitoring, and to support robust predictions of altered parasite dynamics in a rapidly changing world.This article is part of the themed issue 'Opening the black box: re-examining the ecology and evolution of parasite transmission'.


climate change; infectious disease; stressors; sustainable control

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