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Data from: Rodent reservoirs of future zoonotic diseases

Cite this dataset

Han, Barbara A.; Schmidt, John Paul; Bowden, Sarah E.; Drake, John M. (2016). Data from: Rodent reservoirs of future zoonotic diseases [Dataset]. Dryad.


Forecasting reservoirs of zoonotic disease is a pressing public health priority. We apply machine learning to datasets describing the biological, ecological, and life history traits of rodents, which collectively carry a disproportionate number of zoonotic pathogens. We identify particular rodent species predicted to be novel zoonotic reservoirs and geographic regions from which new emerging pathogens are most likely to arise. We also describe trait profiles—complexes of biological features—that distinguish reservoirs from nonreservoirs. Generally, the most permissive rodent reservoirs display a fast-paced life history strategy, maximizing near-term fitness by having many altricial young that begin reproduction early and reproduce frequently. These findings may constitute an important lead in guiding the search for novel disease reservoirs in the wild.

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