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Niche breadth in parasites: an evolutionarily stable strategy model, with special reference to the protozoan parasite Leishmania

Garnick, E.

Theoretical Population Biology 42(1): 62-103

1992


ISSN/ISBN: 0040-5809
PMID: 1412071
DOI: 10.1016/0040-5809(92)90005-e
Accession: 002442478

A parasite's host range essentially defines its niche breadth, which, as foraging theory predicts, is influenced by resource availability. For parasites, the interaction of infection and transmission characteristics with host population dynamics determines host availability. An epidemiological model, involving two host types and describing competition between a "generalist" parasite strain and a related "specialist" strain, is used to examine the interplay among host range, relative host availabilities, and adaptational compromises engendered by increased host range. Results show that the generalist can predominate even when it cannot maintain itself in either host alone, but that the specialist can persist if its reproductive rate attains some threshold relative to either of the generalist's respective rates in its two hosts. The model is in rough, qualitative agreement with observed dynamics of two Leishmania parasite-host systems, and overall results suggest that infection of two species with a common parasite can lead to complex, indirect coevolutionary dynamics.

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