Migration and tolerance shape host behaviour and response to parasite infection

Dongmin Kim, Allison K. Shaw

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Numerous theoretical models have demonstrated that migration, a seasonal animal movement behaviour, can minimize the risks and costs of parasite infection. Past work on migration–infection interactions assumes migration is the only strategy available to organisms for dealing with the parasite infection, that is they migrate to a different environment to recover or escape from infection. Thus, migration is similar to the non-spatial strategy of resistance, where hosts prevent infection or kill parasites once infected. However, an alternative defence strategy is to tolerate the infection and experience a lower cost to the infection. To our knowledge, no studies have examined how migration can change based on combining two host strategies (migration and tolerance) for dealing with parasites. In this paper, we aim to understand how both parasite transmission and infection tolerance can influence the host's migratory behaviour. We constructed a model that incorporates two host strategies (migration and tolerance) to understand whether allowing for tolerance affects the proportion of the population that migrates at equilibrium in response to infection. We show that the benefits of tolerance can either decrease or increase the host's migration. Also, if the benefit of migration is great, then individuals are more likely to migrate regardless of the presence of tolerance. Finally, we find that the transmission rate of parasite infection can either decrease or increase the tolerant host's migration, depending on the cost of migration. These findings highlight that adopting two defence strategies is not always beneficial to the hosts. Instead, a single strategy is often better, depending on the costs and benefits of the strategies and infection pressures. Our work further suggests that multiple host-defence strategies as a potential explanation for the evolution of migration to minimize the parasite infection. Moreover, migration can also affect the ecological and evolutionary dynamics of parasite–host interactions.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2315-2324
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of Animal Ecology
Issue number10
Early online dateMay 20 2021
StatePublished - Oct 2021

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
The authors thank J. Fieberg, L. Shoemaker, C. Weiss‐Lehman and members of the Shaw Lab for discussion and feedback, and thank two anonymous reviewers for helpful suggestions. This material is based in part upon work supported by the National Science Foundation under grant no. DEB‐1654609.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2021 British Ecological Society


  • host–parasite interaction
  • partial migration
  • population dynamics
  • resistance
  • tolerance

PubMed: MeSH publication types

  • Journal Article
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.


Dive into the research topics of 'Migration and tolerance shape host behaviour and response to parasite infection'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this