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Research article2017Peer reviewedOpen access

Dispersal, host genotype and environment shape the spatial dynamics of a parasite in the wild

Ekholm, Adam; Roslin, Tomas; Pulkkinen, Pertti; Tack, Ayco J. M.


Dispersal, environment and genetic variation may all play a role in shaping host-parasite dynamics. Yet, in natural systems, their relative importance remains unresolved. Here, we do so for the epidemiology of a specialist parasite (Erysiphe alphitoides) on the pedunculate oak (Quercus robur). For this purpose, we combine evidence from a multi-year field survey and two dispersal experiments, all conducted at the landscape scale. Patterns detected in the field survey suggest that the parasite is structured as a metapopulation, with trees in denser oak stands characterized by higher parasite occupancy, higher colonization rates and lower extinction rates. The dispersal experiments revealed a major impact of the environment and of host genotype on the presence and abundance of the parasite, with a weaker but detectable imprint of dispersal limitation. Overall, our findings emphasize that dispersal, host genotype and the environment jointly shape the spatial dynamics of a parasite in the wild.


colonization; disease dynamics; dispersal; epidemiology; Erysiphe alphitoides; host-parasite interaction; landscape scale; metapopulation; pedunculate oak; powdery mildew; Quercus robur; spatial dynamics

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2017, Volume: 98, number: 10, pages: 2574-2584
Publisher: WILEY

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