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Transmission risk predicts avoidance of infected conspecifics in Trinidadian guppies

Jessica, Stephenson, Perkins, Sarah ORCID: and Cable, Joanne ORCID: 2018. Transmission risk predicts avoidance of infected conspecifics in Trinidadian guppies. Journal of Animal Ecology 87 (6) , pp. 1525-1533. 10.1111/1365-2656.12885

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1.Associating with conspecifics afflicted with infectious diseases increases the risk of becoming infected, but engaging in avoidance behaviour incurs the cost of lost social benefits. Across systems, infected individuals vary in the transmission risk they pose, so natural selection should favour risk‐sensitive avoidance behaviour that optimally balances the costs and benefits of sociality. 2.Here we use the guppy Poecilia reticulata‐Gyrodactylus turnbulli host‐parasite system to test the prediction that individuals avoid infected conspecifics in proportion to the transmission risk they pose. 3.In dichotomous choice tests, uninfected fish avoided both the chemical and visual cues, presented separately, of infected conspecifics only in the later stages of infection. 4.A transmission experiment indicated that this avoidance behaviour accurately tracked transmission risk (quantified as both the speed at which transmission occurs and the number of parasites transmitting) through the course of infection. 5.Together, these findings reveal that uninfected hosts can use redundant cues across sensory systems to inform dynamic risk‐sensitive avoidance behaviour. This correlation between the transmission risk posed by infected individuals and the avoidance response they elicit has implications for the evolutionary ecology of infectious disease, and its explicit inclusion may improve the ability of epidemic models to predict disease spread.

Item Type: Article
Date Type: Publication
Status: Published
Schools: Biosciences
Publisher: Wiley
ISSN: 0021-8790
Date of First Compliant Deposit: 30 July 2018
Date of Acceptance: 14 July 2018
Last Modified: 22 Mar 2024 17:03

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