Evol Ecol Res 18: 393-409 (2017)     Full PDF if your library subscribes.

The evolution of host defence when parasites impact reproduction

Alex Best1, Andy White2 and Mike Boots3

1School of Mathematics and Statistics, University of Sheffield, Sheffield, UK,  2Department of Mathematics and the Maxwell Institute for Mathematical Sciences,  Heriot-Watt University, Edinburgh, UK and  3Department of Integrative Biology, University of California Berkeley, Berkeley, California, USA

Correspondence: A. Best, School of Mathematics and Statistics, University of Sheffield, Sheffield S10 2TN, UK.
e-mail: a.best@sheffield.ac.uk


Question: How does the evolution of host defences to parasitism depend on the level of disease-induced sterility?

Mathematical methods: Evolutionary invasion analysis (adaptive dynamics) applied to susceptible-infected host–parasite model.

Key assumptions: Hosts can evolve defence through avoidance (lower transmission), clearance (higher recovery) or tolerance (lower virulence), in isolation or simultaneously, at a cost to their reproductive rate. Separation of ecological and evolutionary timescales and mutations of small phenotypic effect.

Conclusions: Avoidance and clearance are maximized when sterility is high, but tolerance is greatest when sterility is low. However, when clearance and tolerance co-evolve there is greater tolerance at high sterility, as this boosts the effectiveness of clearance. Patterns of investment along other environmental gradients can change as the level of sterility changes. Evolutionary branching to co-existence in avoidance and clearance is most likely when sterility is high.

Keywords: adaptive dynamics, evolution, host–parasite, sterility.

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