The influence of host diversity and composition on epidemiological patterns at multiple spatial scales

Sean M. Moore, Elizabeth T. Borer

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

27 Scopus citations


Spatial patterns of pathogen prevalence are determined by ecological processes acting across multiple spatial scales. Host-pathogen interactions are influenced by community composition, landscape structure, and environmental factors. Explaining prevalence patterns requires an understanding of how local determinants of infection, such as community composition, are mediated by landscape characteristics and regional-scale environmental drivers. Here we investigate the role of local community interactions and the effects of landscape structure on the dynamics of barley and cereal yellow dwarf viruses (B/CYDV) in the open meadows of the Cascade Mountains of Oregon. B/CYDV is an aphid-transmitted, generalist pathogen of over 100 wild and cultivated grass species. We used variance components analysis and model selection techniques to partition the sources of variation in B/CYDV prevalence and to determine which abiotic and biotic factors influence host-pathogen interactions in a Cascades meadow system. B/CYDV prevalence in Cascades meadows varied by host species identity, with a significantly higher proportion of infected Festuca idahoensis individuals than Elymus glaucus or Bromus carinatus. Although there was significant variation in prevalence among host species and among meadows in the same meadow complex, there was no evidence of any significant variation in prevalence among different meadow complexes at a larger spatial scale. Variation in prevalence among meadows was primarily associated with the local community context (host identity, the relative abundance of different host species, and host species richness) and the physical landscape attributes of the meadow. These results highlight the importance of local host community composition, mediated by landscape characteristics such as meadow aspect, as a determinant of the spatial pattern of infection of a multi-host pathogen.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1095-1105
Number of pages11
Issue number5
StatePublished - May 2012


  • Aphid vectors
  • Barley and cereal yellow dwarf virus
  • Bromus carinatus
  • Cascades mountains, Oregon, USA
  • Disease ecology
  • Elymus glaucus
  • Festuca idahoensis
  • Host composition
  • Host diversity
  • Host-vector interaction
  • Landscape
  • Montane meadows


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