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Data from: Feeder use predicts both acquisition and transmission of a contagious pathogen in a North American songbird

Citation

Adelman, James S.; Moyers, Sahnzi C.; Farine, Damien R.; Hawley, Dana M. (2015), Data from: Feeder use predicts both acquisition and transmission of a contagious pathogen in a North American songbird, Dryad, Dataset, https://doi.org/10.5061/dryad.4ht07

Abstract

Individual heterogeneity can influence the dynamics of infectious diseases in wildlife and humans alike. Thus, recent work has sought to identify behavioural characteristics that contribute disproportionately to individual variation in pathogen acquisition (super-receiving) or transmission (super-spreading). However, it remains unknown whether the same behaviours enhance both acquisition and transmission, a scenario likely to result in explosive epidemics. Here, we examined this possibility in an ecologically relevant host–pathogen system: house finches and their bacterial pathogen, Mycoplasma gallisepticum, which causes severe conjunctivitis. We examined behaviours likely to influence disease acquisition (feeder use, aggression, social network affiliations) in an observational field study, finding that the time an individual spends on bird feeders best predicted the risk of conjunctivitis. To test whether this behaviour also influences the likelihood of transmitting M. gallisepticum, we experimentally inoculated individuals based on feeding behaviour and tracked epidemics within captive flocks. As predicted, transmission was fastest when birds that spent the most time on feeders initiated the epidemic. Our results suggest that the same behaviour underlies both pathogen acquisition and transmission in this system and potentially others. Identifying individuals that exhibit such behaviours is critical for disease management.

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