Hunting alters viral transmission and evolution in a large carnivore

Nicholas M. Fountain-Jones, Simona Kraberger, Roderick B. Gagne, Marie L.J. Gilbertson, Daryl R. Trumbo, Michael Charleston, Patricia E. Salerno, W. Chris Funk, Kevin Crooks, Kenneth Logan, Mathew Alldredge, Simon Dellicour, Guy Baele, Xavier Didelot, Sue VandeWoude, Scott Carver, Meggan E. Craft

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

5 Scopus citations


Hunting can fundamentally alter wildlife population dynamics but the consequences of hunting on pathogen transmission and evolution remain poorly understood. Here, we present a study that leverages a unique landscape-scale quasi-experiment coupled with pathogen-transmission tracing, network simulation and phylodynamics to provide insights into how hunting shapes feline immunodeficiency virus (FIV) dynamics in puma (Puma concolor). We show that removing hunting pressure enhances the role of males in transmission, increases the viral population growth rate and increases the role of evolutionary forces on the pathogen compared to when hunting was reinstated. Changes in transmission observed with the removal of hunting could be linked to short-term social changes while the male puma population increased. These findings are supported through comparison with a region with stable hunting management over the same time period. This study shows that routine wildlife management can have impacts on pathogen transmission and evolution not previously considered.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)174-182
Number of pages9
JournalNature Ecology and Evolution
Issue number2
StatePublished - Feb 2022

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This project was funded by the National Science Foundation Ecology of Infectious Diseases research programme grants (DEB 1413925) (S.V., W.C.F., M.E.C., K.C. and S.C.) and an Australian Research Council Discovery Project Grant (DP190102020) (M.C., S.C., M.E.C. and S.V.). M.L.J.G. was supported by the Office of the Director, National Institutes of Health (NIH) under award no. NIH T32OD010993. The content is solely the responsibility of the authors and does not necessarily represent the official views of the NIH. S.D. is supported by the Fonds National de la Recherche Scientifique (FNRS, Belgium). G.B. acknowledges support from the Interne Fondsen KU Leuven/Internal Funds KU Leuven under grant agreement C14/18/094 and the Research Foundation—Flanders (‘Fonds voor Wetenschappelijk Onderzoek—Vlaanderen’, G0E1420N). M.E.C. was funded by the National Science Foundation (DEB 1654609 and 2030509) and the College of Veterinary Medicine Research Office UMN Ag Experiment Station General Ag Research Funds. X.D. was supported by the National Institute for Health Research Health Protection Research Unit in Genomics and Enabling Data. Any use of trade, firm or product names is for descriptive purposes only and does not imply endorsement by the US Government.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2022, The Author(s), under exclusive licence to Springer Nature Limited.


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