Skip to main content

Age of first infection across a range of parasite taxa in a wild mammalian population

Cite this dataset

Glidden, Caroline et al. (2020). Age of first infection across a range of parasite taxa in a wild mammalian population [Dataset]. Dryad.


Newborn mammals have an immature immune system that cannot sufficiently protect them against infectious diseases. However, variation in the effectiveness of maternal immunity against different parasites may couple with temporal trends in parasite exposure to influence disparities in timing of infection risk. Determining the relationship between age and infection risk is critical in identifying the portion of a host population that contributes to parasite dynamics, as well as the parasites that regulate host recruitment. While age-prevalence curves have been used as a rough estimation of timing of infection, there are no data directly identifying timing of first infection among parasites in wildlife. Here, we took advantage of a longitudinal dataset, tracking infection status in a herd of African buffalo, with a number of individuals born during the study or immediately prior to the start of the study, to ask: (1) How does age of first infection differ amongst parasite taxa? and (2) Are buffalo parasite communities age-structured? We found distinct differences in age of first infection among parasites that aligned with mode of transmission and parasite taxonomy. Furthermore, we found parasite community composition differs between animals <1.5 years and animals > 1.5 years of age. These results emphasize the importance of understanding infection risk in juveniles, especially in host species where young animals are purported to sustain parasite persistence and / or where mortality rates of juveniles strongly influence population dynamics.


Australian Research Council

Achievement Rewards for College Scientists Foundation

Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council, Award: BB/L011085/1

Melbourne Water

Morris Animal Foundation, Award: Fellowship Training Grant

the Faculty of Veterinary and Agricultural Sciences, University of Melbourne, Award: Research Initiatives Fund 2018

Yourgene Bioscience

USDA-NIFA, Award: # 2013-67015-21291

National Science Foundation, Award: Graduate Research Fellowship,Graduate Research Opportunites Worldwide