Endemic infection can shape exposure to novel pathogens: Pathogen co-occurrence networks in the Serengeti lions

Nicholas M. Fountain-Jones, Craig Packer, Maude Jacquot, F.  Guillaume Blanchet, Karen Terio, Meggan E. Craft

Research output: Contribution to journalLetterpeer-review

8 Scopus citations


Pathogens are embedded in a complex network of microparasites that can collectively or individually alter disease dynamics and outcomes. Endemic pathogens that infect an individual in the first years of life, for example, can either facilitate or compete with subsequent pathogens thereby exacerbating or ameliorating morbidity and mortality. Pathogen associations are ubiquitous but poorly understood, particularly in wild populations. We report here on 10 years of serological and molecular data in African lions, leveraging comprehensive demographic and behavioural data to test if endemic pathogens shape subsequent infection by epidemic pathogens. We combine network and community ecology approaches to assess broad network structure and characterise associations between pathogens across spatial and temporal scales. We found significant non-random structure in the lion-pathogen co-occurrence network and identified both positive and negative associations between endemic and epidemic pathogens. Our results provide novel insights on the complex associations underlying pathogen co-occurrence networks.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)904-913
Number of pages10
JournalEcology letters
Issue number6
StatePublished - Jun 2019

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
N.M. F-J. and M.E.C were funded by National Science Foundation (DEB-1413925 and 1654609), the University of Minnesota’ Office of the Vice President for Research and Academic Health Center Seed Grant, and the Cooperative State Research Service, U.S. Department of Agriculture, under Project No. MIN-62-098. We thank the three anonymous reviewers for their constructive feedback on this paper. We also thank Dr. Linda Munson who led the CDV-Babesia work and Professor CJ Peters for performing the RVF virus neutralisation tests.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2019 John Wiley & Sons Ltd/CNRS


  • Babesia
  • calicivirus
  • canine distemper virus
  • co-infection
  • community assembly
  • coronavirus
  • feline immunodeficiency virus
  • parvovirus


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