Infectious diseases are ubiquitous and account for some of the most dramatic impacts in human history. They are, however, equally prevalent and important to wild animals and plants, potentially being a significant driver of global biodiversity loss. With new wildlife diseases emerging all the time, it is more important than ever to understand the causes, consequences and management of wildlife diseases.
With the support of the British Ecological Society, we have edited a new volume in their Ecological Reviews series: Wildlife Disease Ecology: Linking Theory to Data and Application. This book brings together research from a number of key study systems that have influenced our thinking about the ecology and evolution of infectious diseases in wildlife, and asks a number of fundamental questions. These include: How do hosts and parasites co-evolve? What determines the rate of spread of a wildlife disease? How do co-infecting parasites interact with each other? What determines the resistance or tolerance of a host, and the virulence of a parasite? How do parasites and pathogens influence the spread of invading species? And, importantly, how do we best manage and mitigate against wildlife diseases?
The book is loosely divided into three parts. Part I deals with our understanding of within-host processes, such as interactions between different parasite strains and species within individual hosts, the evolution of parasite virulence and host resistance, and parasite-host co-evolution. Part II explores our understanding of between-host processes, such as the roles that parasites play in driving host population dynamics, the factors influencing parasite transmission between individuals, and herd immunity. Part III explores host-parasite interactions at the host community and landscape scale, including the effects of climate and seasonality, trophic interactions, host migration, as well as spatial and multi-host dynamics.
We chose case studies that reflect the diversity of wildlife disease study systems and theoretical concepts. Together, they explore a broad range of host taxa, including plants, invertebrates and vertebrates, as well as being from an array of geographical regions, including Europe, Africa, Asia, Australasia and the Americas.
What becomes apparent from reading the chapters in this book is that the most successful studies in wildlife disease ecology research are those that combine long-term field or laboratory observational data, with carefully controlled experiments and detailed theoretical modelling. It is also clear that if studies can successfully combine these approaches, they can address several important applied issues, such as how best to manage in wildlife diseases to help conserve vulnerable wildlife populations.
Wildlife Disease Ecology: Linking Theory to Data and Application is published in the UK on 14 November 2019 and elsewhere 6–8 weeks later. BES members get 25% off when buying directly from Cambridge University Press.
Kenneth Wilson (Outgoing Executive Editor, Journal of Animal Ecology) @spodoptera007
Andy Fenton (Current Associate Editor, Journal of Animal Ecology)
Dan Tompkins (Former Associate Editor, Journal of Animal Ecology)