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Migratory animals feel the cost of getting sick: a meta-analysis across species

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journal contribution
posted on 2018-01-01, 00:00 authored by Alice Risely, Marcel KlaassenMarcel Klaassen, Bethany Hoye
1.Migratory animals are widely assumed to play an important role in the long-distance dispersal of parasites, and are frequently implicated in the global spread of zoonotic pathogens such as avian influenzas in birds and ebolaviruses in bats. However, infection imposes physiological and behavioural constraints on hosts that may act to curtail parasite dispersal via changes to migratory timing ('migratory separation') and survival ('migratory culling'). 2.There remains little consensus regarding the frequency and extent to which migratory separation and migratory culling may operate, despite a growing recognition of the importance of these mechanisms in regulating transmission dynamics in migratory animals. 3.We quantitatively reviewed 85 observations extracted from 41 studies to examine how both infection status and infection intensity are related to changes in body stores, refuelling rates, movement capacity, phenology, and survival in migratory hosts across taxa. 4.Overall, host infection status was weakly associated with reduced body stores, delayed migration and lower survival, and more strongly associated with reduced movement. Infection intensity was not associated with changes to host body stores, but was associated with moderate negative effects on movement, phenology and survival. 5.In conclusion, we found evidence for negative effects of infection on host phenology and survival, but the effects were relatively small. This may have implications for the extent to which migratory separation and migratory culling act to limit parasite dispersal in migratory systems. We propose a number of recommendations for future research that will further advance our understanding of how migratory separation and migratory culling may shape host-parasite dynamics along migratory routes globally.



Journal of animal ecology






301 - 314


Wiley-Blackwell Publishing


Chichester, Eng.








Corrigendum Volume 87, Issue 2 Journal of Animal Ecology pages: 526-526

Publication classification

C Journal article; C1 Refereed article in a scholarly journal

Copyright notice

2017, Wiley-Blackwell Publishing