Towards an eco-phylogenetic framework for infectious disease ecology

Nicholas M. Fountain-Jones, William D. Pearse, Luis E. Escobar, Ana Alba-Casals, Scott Carver, T. Jonathan Davies, Simona Kraberger, Monica Papeş, Kurt Vandegrift, Katherine Worsley-Tonks, Meggan E. Craft

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

41 Scopus citations


Identifying patterns and drivers of infectious disease dynamics across multiple scales is a fundamental challenge for modern science. There is growing awareness that it is necessary to incorporate multi-host and/or multi-parasite interactions to understand and predict current and future disease threats better, and new tools are needed to help address this task. Eco-phylogenetics (phylogenetic community ecology) provides one avenue for exploring multi-host multi-parasite systems, yet the incorporation of eco-phylogenetic concepts and methods into studies of host pathogen dynamics has lagged behind. Eco-phylogenetics is a transformative approach that uses evolutionary history to infer present-day dynamics. Here, we present an eco-phylogenetic framework to reveal insights into parasite communities and infectious disease dynamics across spatial and temporal scales. We illustrate how eco-phylogenetic methods can help untangle the mechanisms of host–parasite dynamics from individual (e.g. co-infection) to landscape scales (e.g. parasite/host community structure). An improved ecological understanding of multi-host and multi-pathogen dynamics across scales will increase our ability to predict disease threats.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)950-970
Number of pages21
JournalBiological Reviews
Issue number2
StatePublished - May 2018

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
We thank the Minnesota Institute on the Environment Mini-Grant that sponsored the workshop that formed the basis of this paper. N. M. F. -J. and M. E. C. were funded by National Science Foundation (DEB-1413925); M. E. C. was funded by the University of Minnesota’s Office of the Vice President for Research and Academic Health Center Seed Grant. K.V. was funded by NSF grant 1619072 Ecology and Evolution of Infectious Diseases program.


  • co-infection
  • ecological niche modelling
  • multi-host
  • multi-parasite
  • pathogens
  • phylodynamics
  • phylogenetic community ecology
  • spill-over
  • transmission


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