Disease spread in age structured populations with maternal age effects

Jessica Clark, Jennifer Garbutt, Luke McNally, Thomas Little

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract / Description of output

Fundamental ecological processes such as extrinsic mortality determine population age structure. This influences disease spread when individuals of different ages differ in susceptibility, or when maternal age determines offspring susceptibility. We show that Daphnia magna offspring born to young mothers are more susceptible than those born to older mothers, and consider this alongside previous observations that susceptibility declines with age in this system. Thus, we used a Susceptible-Infected compartmental model to investigate how age-specific susceptibility and maternal age effects on offspring susceptibility interact with demographic factors affecting disease spread. Our results show a scenario where an increase in extrinsic mortality drives an increase in transmission potential. Furthermore we identify a realistic context in which age effects and maternal effects produce conditions favouring disease transmission.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)445–451
Number of pages7
JournalEcology Letters
Issue number4
Early online date7 Mar 2017
Publication statusPublished - 23 Mar 2017

Keywords / Materials (for Non-textual outputs)

  • epidemiology
  • ecology
  • evolution
  • age
  • demography
  • immunity
  • maternal effects
  • senescence
  • Daphnia
  • modeling


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