American Society of Naturalists

A membership society whose goal is to advance and to diffuse knowledge of organic evolution and other broad biological principles so as to enhance the conceptual unification of the biological sciences.

“Comparing the indirect effects between exploiters in predator-prey and host-pathogen systems”

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Michael H. Cortez and Meghan A. Duffy (Dec 2020)

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In multi-predator and multi-pathogen systems, exploiters interact indirectly via shared victim species. Interspecific prey competition and the degree of predator specialization are known to in uence whether predators have competitive, i.e., (−,−), or noncompetitive, i.e., (−,+) or (+,+), indirect interactions. Much less is known about the population-level in- direct interactions between pathogens that infect the same populations of host species. In this study, we use two-predator-two-prey and two-host-two-pathogen models to compare the indirect effects between predators with the indirect effects between pathogens. We focus on how the indirect interactions between pathogens are affected by the competitive abilities of susceptible and infected hosts, whether the pathogens are specialists or generalists, and the transmission pathway (direct versus environmental transmission). In many cases, indirect effects between pathogens and predators follow similar patterns, e.g., more positive indirect effects with increased interspecific competition between victim species. However, the indirect effects between pathogens can qualitatively differ, e.g., more negative indirect effects with increased interspecific host competition. These contrasting patterns show that an important mechanistic difference between predatory and parasitic interactions (specifically, whether interactions are immediately lethal) can have important population-level effects on the indirect interactions between exploiters.