A unified evolutionary framework for understanding parasite infection and host migratory behaviour

Allison K. Shaw, Marie Levet, Sandra A. Binning

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

2 Scopus citations


Animal migration impacts organismal health and parasite transmission: migrants are simultaneously exposed to parasites and able to reduce infection for both individuals and populations. However, these dynamics are difficult to study; empirical studies reveal disparate results while existing theory makes assumptions that simplify natural complexity. Here, we systematically review empirical studies of migration and infection across taxa, highlighting key gaps in our understanding. Next, we develop a unified evolutionary framework incorporating different selective pressures of parasite–migration interactions while accounting for ecological complexity that goes beyond previous theory. Our framework generates diverse migration–infection patterns paralleling those seen in empirical systems, including partial and differential migration. Finally, we generate predictions about which mechanisms dominate which empirical systems to guide future studies. Our framework provides an overarching understanding of selective pressures shaping migration patterns in the context of animal health and disease, which is critical for predicting how environmental change may threaten migration.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1987-2002
Number of pages16
JournalEcology letters
Issue number11
StatePublished - Nov 2023

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2023 The Authors. Ecology Letters published by John Wiley & Sons Ltd.


  • animal movement
  • differential migration
  • indirect transmission
  • infection intensity
  • migration distance
  • migration stopover
  • migratory allopatry
  • migratory exposure
  • pathogen

PubMed: MeSH publication types

  • Systematic Review
  • Journal Article
  • Review


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