[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Understanding the evolutionary history of microbial pathogens is critical for mitigating the impacts of emerging infectious diseases on economically and ecologically important host species. We used a genome resequencing approach to resolve the evolutionary history of an important microbial pathogen, the chytrid Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis (Bd), which has been implicated in amphibian declines worldwide. We sequenced the genomes of 29 isolates of Bd from around the world, with an emphasis on North, Central, and South America because of the devastating effect that Bd has had on amphibian populations in the New World. We found a substantial amount of evolutionary complexity in Bd with deep phylogenetic diversity that predates observed global amphibian declines. By investigating the entire genome, we found that even the most recently evolved Bd clade (termed the global panzootic lineage) contained more genetic variation than previously reported. We also found dramatic differences among isolates and among genomic regions in chromosomal copy number and patterns of heterozygosity, suggesting complex and heterogeneous genome dynamics. Finally, we report evidence for selection acting on the Bd genome, supporting the hypothesis that protease genes are important in evolutionary transitions in this group. Bd is considered an emerging pathogen because of its recent effects on amphibians, but our data indicate that it has a complex evolutionary history that predates recent disease outbreaks. Therefore, it is important to consider the contemporary effects of Bd in a broader evolutionary context and identify specific mechanisms that may have led to shifts in virulence in this system.
Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 05/2013; · 9.74 Impact Factor
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Understanding how pathogens respond to changing environmental conditions is a central challenge in disease ecology. The environmentally sensitive fungal pathogen Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis (Bd), which causes the amphibian disease chytridiomycosis, has spread globally causing amphibian extirpations in a wide variety of climatic regions. To gain an in-depth understanding of Bd's responses to temperature, we used an integrative approach, combining empirical laboratory experiments with mathematical modeling. First, we selected a single Bd isolate and serially propagated two lineages of the isolate for multiple generations in two stable thermal conditions: 4°C (cold-adapted lineage) and 23°C (warm-adapted lineage). We quantified the production of infectious zoospores (fecundity), the timing of zoospore release, and zoospore activity in reciprocal temperature transplant experiments in which both Bd lineages were grown in either high or low temperature conditions. We then developed population growth models for the Bd lineages under each set of temperature conditions. We found that Bd had lower population growth rates, but longer periods of zoospore activity in the low temperature treatment (4°C) compared to the high temperature treatment (23°C). This effect was more pronounced in Bd lineages that were propagated in the low temperature treatment (4°C), suggesting a shift in Bd's response to low temperature conditions. Our results provide novel insights into the mechanisms by which Bd can thrive in a wide variety of temperature conditions, potentially altering the dynamics of chytridiomycosis and thus, the propensity for Bd to cause amphibian population collapse. We also suggest that the adaptive responses of Bd to thermal conditions warrant further investigation, especially in the face of global climate change.
Ecology and Evolution 09/2012; 2(9):2241-9. · 1.18 Impact Factor
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Global changes such as deforestation, climate change, and invasive species have the potential to greatly alter zoonotic disease systems through impacts on biodiversity. This study examined the impact of the invasive pathogen that causes sudden oak death (SOD) on the ecology of Lyme disease in California. The Lyme disease bacterium, Borrelia burgdorferi, is maintained in the far western United States by a suite of animal reservoirs including the dusky-footed woodrat (Neotoma fuscipes) and deer mouse (Peromyscus maniculatus), and is transmitted by the western black-legged tick (Ixodes pacificus). Other vertebrates, such as the western fence lizard (Sceloporus occidentalis), are important tick hosts but are not reservoirs of the pathogen. Previous work found that higher levels of SOD are correlated with greater abundance of P. maniculatus and S. occidentalis and lower N. fuscipes abundance. Here we model the contribution of these tick hosts to Lyme disease risk and also evaluate the potential impact of SOD on infection prevalence of the tick vector. By empirically parameterizing a static model with field and laboratory data on tick hosts, we predict that SOD reduces an important index of disease risk, nymphal infection prevalence, leading to a reduction in Lyme disease risk in certain coastal woodlands. Direct observational analysis of the impact of SOD on nymphal infection prevalence supports these model results. This study underscores the important direct and indirect impacts of invasive plant pathogens on biodiversity, the transmission cycles of zoonotic diseases, and ultimately human health.
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Amphibian conservation goals depend on effective disease-treatment protocols. Desirable protocols are species, life stage, and context specific, but currently few treatment options exist for amphibians infected with the chytrid fungus Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis (Bd). Treatment options, at present, include antifungal drugs and heat therapy, but risks of toxicity and side-effects make these options untenable in some cases. Here, we report on the comparison of several novel treatments with a more generally accepted antifungal treatment in experimental scientific trials to treat Bd-infected frogs including Alytes obstetricans tadpoles and metamorphs, Bufo bufo and Limnodynastes peronii metamorphs, and Lithobates pipiens and Rana muscosa adults. The experimental treatments included commercial antifungal products (itraconazole, mandipropamid, steriplantN, and PIP Pond Plus), antimicrobial skin peptides from the Bd-resistant Pelophylax esculentus, microbial treatments (Pedobacter cryoconitis), and heat therapy (35°C for 24 h). None of the new experimental treatments were considered successful in terms of improving survival; however, these results may advance future research by indicating the limits and potential of the various protocols. Caution in the use of itraconazole is warranted because of observed toxicity in metamorphic and adult frogs, even at low concentrations. Results suggest that rather than focusing on a single cure-all, diverse lines of research may provide multiple options for treating Bd infection in amphibians. Learning from 'failed treatments' is essential for the timely achievement of conservation goals and one of the primary aims for a publicly accessible treatment database under development.
Diseases of Aquatic Organisms 02/2012; 98(1):11-25. · 1.73 Impact Factor
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: The disease chytridiomycosis is responsible for declines and extirpations of amphibians worldwide. Chytridiomycosis is caused by a fungal pathogen (Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis) that infects amphibian skin. Although we have a basic understanding of the pathophysiology from laboratory experiments, many mechanistic details remain unresolved and it is unknown if disease development is similar in wild amphibian populations. To gain a better understanding of chytridiomycosis pathophysiology in wild amphibian populations, we collected blood biochemistry measurements during an outbreak in mountain yellow-legged frogs (Rana muscosa) in the Sierra Nevada Mountains of California. We found that pathogen load is associated with disruptions in fluid and electrolyte balance, yet is not associated with fluctuations acid-base balance. These findings enhance our knowledge of the pathophysiology of this disease and indicate that disease development is consistent across multiple species and in both laboratory and natural conditions. We recommend integrating an understanding of chytridiomycosis pathophysiology with mitigation practices to improve amphibian conservation.
PLoS ONE 01/2012; 7(4):e35374. · 3.73 Impact Factor
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Individual based models (IBMs) and Agent based models (ABMs) have become widely used tools to understand complex biological systems. However, general methods of parameter inference for IBMs are not available. In this paper we show that it is possible to address this problem with a traditional likelihood-based approach, using an example of an IBM developed to describe the spread of chytridiomycosis in a population of frogs as a case study. We show that if the IBM satisfies certain criteria we can find the likelihood (or posterior) analytically, and use standard computational techniques, such as MCMC, for parameter inference.
Journal of Theoretical Biology 02/2011; 277(1):90-8. · 2.35 Impact Factor
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: The distribution of vector meals in the host community is an important element of understanding and predicting vector-borne disease risk. Lizards (such as the western fence lizard; Sceloporus occidentalis) play a unique role in Lyme disease ecology in the far-western United States. Lizards rather than mammals serve as the blood meal hosts for a large fraction of larval and nymphal western black-legged ticks (Ixodes pacificus--the vector for Lyme disease in that region) but are not competent reservoirs for the pathogen, Borrelia burgdorferi. Prior studies have suggested that the net effect of lizards is to reduce risk of human exposure to Lyme disease, a hypothesis that we tested experimentally. Following experimental removal of lizards, we documented incomplete host switching by larval ticks (5.19%) from lizards to other hosts. Larval tick burdens increased on woodrats, a competent reservoir, but not on deer mice, a less competent pathogen reservoir. However, most larvae failed to find an alternate host. This resulted in significantly lower densities of nymphal ticks the following year. Unexpectedly, the removal of reservoir-incompetent lizards did not cause an increase in nymphal tick infection prevalence. The net result of lizard removal was a decrease in the density of infected nymphal ticks, and therefore a decreased risk to humans of Lyme disease. Our results indicate that an incompetent reservoir for a pathogen may, in fact, increase disease risk through the maintenance of higher vector density and therefore, higher density of infected vectors.
Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences 02/2011; 278(1720):2970-8. · 5.68 Impact Factor
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: The disease chytridiomycosis, caused by the fungus Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis (Bd), has caused dramatic amphibian population declines and extinctions in Australia, Central and North America, and Europe. Bd is associated with >200 species extinctions of amphibians, but not all species that become infected are susceptible to the disease. Specifically, Bd has rapidly emerged in some areas of the world, such as in Australia, USA, and throughout Central and South America, causing population and species collapse. The mechanism behind the rapid global emergence of the disease is poorly understood, in part due to an incomplete picture of the global distribution of Bd. At present, there is a considerable amount of geographic bias in survey effort for Bd, with Asia being the most neglected continent. To date, Bd surveys have been published for few Asian countries, and infected amphibians have been reported only from Indonesia, South Korea, China and Japan. Thus far, there have been no substantiated reports of enigmatic or suspected disease-caused population declines of the kind that has been attributed to Bd in other areas. In order to gain a more detailed picture of the distribution of Bd in Asia, we undertook a widespread, opportunistic survey of over 3,000 amphibians for Bd throughout Asia and adjoining Papua New Guinea. Survey sites spanned 15 countries, approximately 36° latitude, 111° longitude, and over 2000 m in elevation. Bd prevalence was very low throughout our survey area (2.35% overall) and infected animals were not clumped as would be expected in epizootic events. This suggests that Bd is either newly emerging in Asia, endemic at low prevalence, or that some other ecological factor is preventing Bd from fully invading Asian amphibians. The current observed pattern in Asia differs from that in many other parts of the world.
PLoS ONE 01/2011; 6(8):e23179. · 3.73 Impact Factor
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: The abiotic and biotic factors that govern the spatial distribution of Lyme disease vectors are poorly understood. This study addressed the influence of abiotic and biotic environmental variables on Ixodes pacificus Cooley & Kohls (Acari:Ixodidae) nymphs, because it is the primary vector of Borrelia burgdorferi Johnson, Schmidt, Hyde, Steigerwaldt & Brenner in the far-western United States. Three metrics of Lyme disease risk were evaluated: the density of nymphs, the density of infected nymphs, and the nymphal infection prevalence. This study sampled randomly located plots in oak (Quercus spp.) woodland habitat in Sonoma County, CA. Each plot was drag-sampled for nymphal ticks and tested for B. burgdorferi infection. Path analysis was used to evaluate the direct and indirect relationship between topographic, forest structure and microclimatic variables on ticks. Significant negative correlations were found between maximum temperature in the dry season and the density of infected ticks in 2006 and tick density in 2007, but we did not find a significant relationship with nymphal infection prevalence in either year. Tick density and infected tick density had an indirect, positive correlation with elevation, mediated through temperature. This study found that in certain years but not others, temperature maxima in the dry season may constrain the density and density of infected I. pacificus nymphs. In other years, biotic or stochastic factors may play a more important role in determining tick density.
Journal of Medical Entomology 01/2011; 48(1):20-8. · 1.86 Impact Factor
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Rescuing amphibian diversity is an achievable conservation challenge. Disease mitigation is one essential component of population management. Here we assess existing disease mitigation strategies, some in early experimental stages, which focus on the globally emerging chytrid fungus Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis. We discuss the precedent for each strategy in systems ranging from agriculture to human medicine, and the outlook for each strategy in terms of research needs and long-term potential.
We find that the effects of exposure to Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis occur on a spectrum from transient commensal to lethal pathogen. Management priorities are divided between (1) halting pathogen spread and developing survival assurance colonies, and (2) prophylactic or remedial disease treatment. Epidemiological models of chytridiomycosis suggest that mitigation strategies can control disease without eliminating the pathogen. Ecological ethics guide wildlife disease research, but several ethical questions remain for managing disease in the field.
Because sustainable conservation of amphibians in nature is dependent on long-term population persistence and co-evolution with potentially lethal pathogens, we suggest that disease mitigation not focus exclusively on the elimination or containment of the pathogen, or on the captive breeding of amphibian hosts. Rather, successful disease mitigation must be context specific with epidemiologically informed strategies to manage already infected populations by decreasing pathogenicity and host susceptibility. We propose population level treatments based on three steps: first, identify mechanisms of disease suppression; second, parameterize epizootiological models of disease and population dynamics for testing under semi-natural conditions; and third, begin a process of adaptive management in field trials with natural populations.
Frontiers in Zoology 01/2011; 8(1):8. · 3.87 Impact Factor
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Invasive species, including pathogens, can have important effects on local ecosystems, including indirect consequences on native species. This study focuses on the effects of an invasive plant pathogen on a vertebrate community and Ixodes pacificus, the vector of the Lyme disease pathogen (Borrelia burgdorferi) in California. Phytophthora ramorum, the causative agent of sudden oak death, is a non-native pathogen killing trees in California and Oregon. We conducted a multi-year study using a gradient of SOD-caused disturbance to assess the impact on the dusky-footed woodrat (Neotoma fuscipes) and the deer mouse (Peromyscus maniculatus), two reservoir hosts of B. burgdorferi, as well as the impact on the Columbian black-tailed deer (Odocoileus hemionus columbianus) and the western fence lizard (Sceloporus occidentalis), both of which are important hosts for I. pacificus but are not pathogen reservoirs. Abundances of P. maniculatus and S. occidentalis were positively correlated with greater SOD disturbance, whereas N. fuscipes abundance was negatively correlated. We did not find a change in space use by O. hemionus. Our data show that SOD has a positive impact on the density of nymphal ticks, which is expected to increase the risk of human exposure to Lyme disease all else being equal. A positive correlation between SOD disturbance and the density of nymphal ticks was expected given increased abundances of two important hosts: deer mice and western fence lizards. However, further research is needed to integrate the direct effects of SOD on ticks, for example via altered abiotic conditions with host-mediated indirect effects.
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Epidemiological theory generally suggests that pathogens will not cause host extinctions because the pathogen should fade out when the host population is driven below some threshold density. An emerging infectious disease, chytridiomycosis, caused by the fungal pathogen Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis (Bd) is directly linked to the recent extinction or serious decline of hundreds of amphibian species. Despite continued spread of this pathogen into uninfected areas, the dynamics of the host-pathogen interaction remain unknown. We use fine-scale spatiotemporal data to describe (i) the invasion and spread of Bd through three lake basins, each containing multiple populations of the mountain yellow-legged frog, and (ii) the accompanying host-pathogen dynamics. Despite intensive sampling, Bd was not detected on frogs in study basins until just before epidemics began. Following Bd arrival in a basin, the disease spread to neighboring populations at approximately 700 m/yr in a wave-like pattern until all populations were infected. Within a population, infection prevalence rapidly reached 100% and infection intensity on individual frogs increased in parallel. Frog mass mortality began only when infection intensity reached a critical threshold and repeatedly led to extinction of populations. Our results indicate that the high growth rate and virulence of Bd allow the near-simultaneous infection and buildup of high infection intensities in all host individuals; subsequent host population crashes therefore occur before Bd is limited by density-dependent factors. Preventing infection intensities in host populations from reaching this threshold could provide an effective strategy to avoid the extinction of susceptible amphibian species in the wild.
Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 05/2010; 107(21):9689-94. · 9.74 Impact Factor
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Chytridiomycosis, the disease caused by the chytrid fungus, Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis (Bd), has contributed to amphibian population declines and extinctions worldwide. The impact of this pathogen, however, varies markedly among amphibian species and populations. Following invasion into some areas of California's Sierra Nevada, Bd leads to rapid declines and local extinctions of frog populations (Rana muscosa, R. sierrae). In other areas, infected populations of the same frog species have declined but persisted at low host densities for many years. We present results of a 5-year study showing that infected adult frogs in persistent populations have low fungal loads, are surviving between years, and frequently lose and regain the infection. Here we put forward the hypothesis that fungal load dynamics can explain the different population-level outcomes of Bd observed in different areas of the Sierra Nevada and possibly throughout the world. We develop a model that incorporates the biological details of the Bd-host interaction. Importantly, model results suggest that host persistence versus extinction does not require differences in host susceptibility, pathogen virulence, or environmental conditions, and may be just epidemic and endemic population dynamics of the same host-pathogen system. The different disease outcomes seen in natural populations may result solely from density-dependent host-pathogen dynamics. The model also shows that persistence of Bd is enhanced by the long-lived tadpole stage that characterize these two frog species, and by nonhost Bd reservoirs.
Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 05/2010; 107(21):9695-700. · 9.74 Impact Factor
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: The fungal pathogen Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis (Bd), the causative agent of chytridiomycosis, has been implicated in amphibian declines worldwide. It has been hypothesized that low inherent immunogenicity in Bd may be related to the high rates of morbidity and mortality that are associated with Bd-infected anuran populations. To test this idea, juvenile Rana muscosa (mountain yellow-legged frogs) were immunized with adjuvants in combination with a formalin-killed Bd culture to determine if it is possible to stimulate a protective immune response when challenged with a live inoculum of B. dendrobatidis. Three groups of juvenile R. muscosa (6 mo postmetamorphosis) were immunized with saline, Freunds Complete (FCA) and Incomplete Adjuvant (FIA), or the adjuvants in combination with a formalin-killed culture of B. dendrobatidis. The effects of immunization were modeled using survival analysis and a proportional hazards model. No significant differences were found between the groups in overall mortality, time to infection, infection prevalence, or intensity. While this study suggests that immunizing anurans against chytridiomycosis will not alter rates of infection or mortality among individuals, it does raise several questions regarding the attenuation and efficacy of anuran adaptive immune responses and whether they may be protective against this disease.
Journal of wildlife diseases 01/2010; 46(1):70-7. · 1.27 Impact Factor
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Emerging infectious diseases threaten human and wildlife populations. Altered ecological interactions between mutualistic microbes and hosts can result in disease, but an understanding of interactions between host, microbes and disease-causing organisms may lead to management strategies to affect disease outcomes. Many amphibian species in relatively pristine habitats are experiencing dramatic population declines and extinctions due to the skin disease chytridiomycosis, which is caused by the chytrid fungus Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis. Using a randomized, replicated experiment, we show that adding an antifungal bacterial species, Janthinobacterium lividum, found on several species of amphibians to the skins of the frog Rana muscosa prevented morbidity and mortality caused by the pathogen. The bacterial species produces the anti-chytrid metabolite violacein, which was found in much higher concentrations on frog skins in the treatments where J. lividum was added. Our results show that cutaneous microbes are a part of amphibians' innate immune system, the microbial community structure on frog skins is a determinant of disease outcome and altering microbial interactions on frog skins can prevent a lethal disease outcome. A bioaugmentation strategy may be an effective management tool to control chytridiomycosis in amphibian survival assurance colonies and in nature.
The ISME Journal 04/2009; 3(7):818-24. · 8.95 Impact Factor
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Conventional disease theory suggests that extinction with density-dependent transmission is unlikely as the threshold host density (KT) is greater than zero. Extinction may result if transmission is frequency dependent or the pathogen has an environmental reservoir. Given the importance of understanding how pathogens affect species richness and diversity there are few empirical tests of these conclusions. We used an Ambystoma tigrinum–Ambystoma tigrinum virus (ATV) model system in the laboratory to examine disease transmission dynamics. Susceptible A. tigrinum larvae were exposed to three different densities and proportions of infected larvae for 24 h. We then housed susceptible hosts individually for 28 days and monitored them for infection. The density of infected hosts to which susceptible hosts were exposed was the best predictor of infection (p=0.037). There was no effect of host clutch on the probability of becoming infected (p=0.67). Larvae in the highest density treatments died sooner than larvae in lower density treatments (p<0.001). Asymptomatic but infected hosts shed sufficient virus into the water in a 24-h period to infect susceptible hosts without any direct contact between individuals. ATV transmission was best described by a power function, leading to the prediction that extinction of A. tigrinum as a result of this pathogen is unlikely. Indeed, field observations show that larval salamander populations that experience ATV-driven epidemics may decrease, but not to extinction, and then recover. Disease is proposed as a possible explanation for the global decline of amphibians. Ranaviruses infect many amphibian populations, but based on our results may not be a general cause of declines to extinction. In contrast, frequency dependent transmission, environmental reservoirs and alternative hosts may be the most likely explanation for the enigmatic decline, at times to extinction, of some amphibian populations as a result of emerging infectious diseases, like the chytrid fungus Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis.
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Lyme disease (LD), the most frequently reported vector-borne disease in the United States, requires that humans, infected vector ticks, and infected hosts all occur in close spatial proximity. Understanding the spatial dynamics of LD requires an understanding of the spatial determinants of each of these organisms. We review the literature on spatial patterns and environmental correlates of human cases of LD and the vector ticks, Ixodes scapularis in the northeastern and midwestern United States and Ixodes pacificus in the western United States. The results of this review highlight a need for a more standardized and comprehensive approach to studying the spatial dynamics of the LD system. Specifically, we found that the only environmental variable consistently associated with increased LD risk and incidence was the presence of forests. However, the reasons why some forests are associated with higher risk and incidence than others are still poorly understood. We suspect that the discordance among studies is due, in part, to the rapid developments in both conceptual and technological aspects of spatial ecology hastening the obsolescence of earlier approaches. Significant progress in identifying the determinants of spatial variation in LD risk and incidence requires that: (1) existing knowledge of the biology of the individual components of each LD system is utilized in the development of spatial models; (2) spatial data are collected over longer periods of time; (3) data collection and analysis among regions are more standardized; and (4) the effect of the same environmental variables is tested at multiple spatial scales.
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Life-history trade-offs allow many animals to maintain reproductive fitness across a range of climatic conditions. When used by parasites and pathogens, these strategies may influence patterns of disease in changing climates. The chytrid fungus, Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis, is linked to global declines of amphibian populations. Short-term growth in culture is maximal at 17 degrees-25 degrees C. This has been used in an argument that global warming, which increases the time that amphibians spend at these temperatures in cloud-covered montane environments, has led to extinctions. Here we show that the amphibian chytrid responds to decreasing temperatures with trade-offs that increase fecundity as maturation rate slows and increase infectivity as growth decreases. At 17 degrees-25 degrees C, infectious zoospores encyst (settle and develop a cell wall) and develop into the zoospore-producing stage (zoosporangium) faster, while at 7 degrees-10 degrees C, greater numbers of zoospores are produced per zoosporangium; these remain infectious for a longer period of time. We modeled the population growth of B. dendrobatidis through time at various temperatures using delayed differential equations and observational data for four parameters: developmental rate of thalli, fecundity, rate of zoospore encystment, and rate of zoospore survival. From the models, it is clear that life-history trade-offs allow B. dendrobatidis to maintain a relatively high long-term growth rate at low temperatures, so that it maintains high fitness across a range of temperatures. When a seven-day cold shock is simulated, the outcome is intermediate between the two constant temperature regimes, and in culture, a sudden drop in temperature induces zoospore release. These trade-offs can be ecologically important for a variety of organisms with complex life histories, including pathogenic microorganisms. The effect of temperature on amphibian mortality will depend on the interaction between fungal growth and host immune function and will be modified by host ecology, behavior, and life history. These results demonstrate that B. dendrobatidis populations can grow at high rates across a broad range of environmental temperatures and help to explain why it is so successful in cold montane environments.
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: 1. The length of time that a gall-forming midge, Rhopalomyia califomica, was vulnerable to attack by four parasitoid species was measured in the field at two locations.2. The midge had a restricted window of vulnerability to each of the parasitoid species, but similar windows of vulnerability were found at the two sites.3. A stage-structured model was used to illustrate that the length of the vulnerable window should have no effect on the fraction parasitized by a single parasitoid species if that species is the only parasitoid attacking the host in a coupled host-parasitoid interaction. However, the length of the window of vulnerability can have a positive effect on the fraction parasitized by a species in competition with other parasitoid species.4. The length of the window of vulnerability can help explain the relative field abundance of four of the common parasitoid species of R.californica.
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Although the canonical concept of intraguild predation evokes images of predators and prey, several subdisciplines within ecology have developed theory not specifically framed in terms of predation and competition and often using system-specific terminology, yet functionally quite similar. Here, we formulate models combining exploitation and competition in predator-prey, host-parasitoid, and host-pathogen communities to compare dynamics, food web structure, and coexistence criteria for these disparate communities. Although dynamic stability in the coexistence region varies strongly among systems, in all cases coexistence of two consumers on a single resource occurs only if the intraguild prey species is more efficient than the intraguild predator at suppressing the abundance of the basal resource, and if the intraguild predator accrues a sufficient gain from attacking the intraguild prey. In addition, equilibrial abundances of all species in all three formulations respond similarly to increases in productivity of the basal resource. Our understanding of predator-prey and parasitoid-host communities has benefited from explicit examination of intraguild predation (IGP) theory, and we suggest that future research examining pathogen communities, in particular, will benefit substantially from explicit recognition of predictions from IGP theory.