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Data from: Age-related effects of chronic hantavirus infection on female host fecundity

Cite this dataset

Kallio, Eva R. et al. (2016). Data from: Age-related effects of chronic hantavirus infection on female host fecundity [Dataset]. Dryad.


1. Pathogens often cause detrimental effects to their hosts and, consequently, may influence host population dynamics that may, in turn, feed back to pathogen transmission dynamics. Understanding fitness effects of pathogens upon animal host populations can help to predict the risks that zoonotic pathogens pose to humans. 2. Here we determine whether chronic infection by Puumala hantavirus (PUUV) affects important fitness-related traits, namely the probability of breeding, reproductive effort and mother and offspring condition, in the bank vole (Myodes glareolus). Using 9 years empirical data in a PUUV endemic area in Central Finland, we found differences between reproductive characteristics of PUUV-infected and uninfected female bank voles. 3. Young infected females had a significantly higher, and old individuals lower, likelihood of reproducing than uninfected animals during the middle of the breeding season. The implication is that PUUV infection may have long-term deleterious effects that are observed at old age, while in young individuals, the infection may enhance breeding probability by directing resources towards current breeding. 4. Moreover, PUUV infection was related with the mother's body condition. Infected mothers were in poorer condition than uninfected mothers in the early breeding season, but were in better condition than uninfected mothers during the middle of the breeding season. Offspring body condition was positively associated with mother's body condition, which, in turn, was related to the PUUV infection status of the mother. 5. Our findings indicate that chronic infection may affect the reproduction of female hosts, but the effect is dependent on the host age. The effect of chronic hantavirus infection was small and density-independent and hence unlikely to contribute to the cyclic population dynamics of the host. However, the effects on a female's reproductive output might affect the abundance of young susceptible individuals in the population and hence influence the transmission and persistence of the pathogen. Although experimental and long-term capture–mark–recapture studies are required to further clarify the fitness effects of hantavirus infection and their consequences for pathogen dynamics, this study shows that the infection may have complex effects that are dependent on the age of the individual and the time of the breeding season.

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