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Research article - Peer-reviewed, 2017

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

Published in

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

Authors' information

Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences, Department of Ecology
Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences, Department of Ecology
University of Helsinki
Pulkkinen, Pertti
Natural Resources Institute Finland (LUKE)
Tack, Ayco J. M.
Stockholm University

Associated SLU-program

SLU Network Plant Protection

UKÄ Subject classification


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