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Title: Forest species diversity reduces disease risk in a generalist plant pathogen invasion

Author: Haas, Sarah E.; Hooten, Mevin B.; Rizzo, David M.; Meentemeyer, Ross K.;

Date: 2011

Source: Ecology Letters

Publication Series: Scientific Journal (JRNL)

Description: Empirical evidence suggests that biodiversity loss can increase disease transmission, yet our understanding of the diversity-disease hypothesis for generalist pathogens in natural ecosystems is limited. We used a landscape epidemiological approach to examine two scenarios regarding diversity effects on the emerging plant pathogen Phytophthora ramorum across a broad, heterogeneous ecoregion: (1) an amplification effect exists where disease risk is greater in areas with higher plant diversity due to the pathogen's wide host range, or (2) a dilution effect where risk is reduced with increasing diversity due to lower competency of alternative hosts. We found evidence for pathogen dilution, whereby disease risk was lower in sites with higher species diversity, after accounting for potentially confounding effects of host density and landscape heterogeneity. Our results suggest that although nearly all plants in the ecosystem are hosts, alternative hosts may dilute disease transmission by competent hosts, thereby buffering forest health from infectious disease.

Keywords: Bayesian hierarchical model, emerging infectious disease, forest ecosystem, landscape epidemiology, Phytophthora ramorum, spatial autocorrelation, species diversity, sudden oak death, zero-inflation.

Publication Notes:

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  • This article was written and prepared by U.S. Government employees on official time, and is therefore in the public domain.

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Haas, Sarah E.; Hooten, Mevin B.; Rizzo, David M.; Meentemeyer, Ross K. 2011. Forest species diversity reduces disease risk in a generalist plant pathogen invasion. Ecology Letters. doi: 10.1111/j.1461-0248.2011.01679.x

 


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