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Center for the Ecology of Infectious Diseases, Conference Room 104D View map Free Event

203 D.W. Brooks Drive, Athens, GA 30602 - Call for directions, mapping software often incorrect #CEID
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"Phenology, Competency and the Disease-Diversity Relationship: A Case Study of West Nile Virus in New York," John Vinson, Ph.D. student in the Odum School of Ecology.

With global changes in diversity, an understanding of how decreased host diversity will affect disease transmission is crucial. The dilution effect hypothesis posits that decreased host species diversity may lead to an increase in disease risk. Evidence for the phenomenon has been observed in both West Nile virus (WNV) and Lyme disease systems, which are transmitted through vector species. However, there remains an opportunity to explore the generality of the relationship for vector-borne pathogens under both community disassembly and host species phenology. We present a multi-host SI model with vector-borne transmission and explore the conditions under which decreased disease risk occurs, using the reproductive ratio (R 0 ) of the parasite. We derive conditions for changes in R 0 with host richness under scenarios where the one community is a subset of another (e.g. community disassembly, or changes due to loss/gain of migratory species). We explore predictions using a WNV case study using data on bird and mosquito abundance in Central Park, New York. Phenology in bird abundance coupled with mosquito emergence through the year combine to provide a peak period of infection risk. These results provide a potential method for predicting change in disease risk following predictable changes in community composition, including migration and phenological complementarity.

Vinson is advised by Andrew Park. In 2013, he received his B.S. in biological sciences and mathematics from the University of South Carolina. His research interests include population and community ecology, mathematical modeling of infectious diseases, and the dilution effect hypothesis. His dissertation is focused on theoretical and empirical investigations of the disease-diversity relationship in vector-borne disease systems.

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