Host movement dominates the predicted effects of climate change on parasite transmission between wild and domestic mountain ungulates

Eleanor R. Dickinson*, Christopher McFarland, Carole Toïgo, D. Michael Scantlebury, Philip A. Stephens, Nikki J. Marks, Eric R. Morgan

*Corresponding author for this work

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Abstract

Climate change is shifting the transmission of parasites, which is determined by host density, ambient temperature and moisture. These shifts can lead to increased pressure from parasites, in wild and domestic animals, and can impact the effectiveness of parasite control strategies. Understanding the interactive effects of climate on host movement and parasite life histories will enable targeted parasite management, to ensure livestock productivity and avoid additional stress on wildlife populations. To assess complex outcomes under climate change, we applied a gastrointestinal nematode transmission model to a montane wildlife–livestock system, based on host movement and changes in abiotic factors due to elevation, comparing projected climate change scenarios with the historic climate. The wildlife host, Alpine ibex (Capra ibex ibex), undergoes seasonal elevational migration, and livestock are grazed during the summer for eight weeks. Total parasite infection pressure was more sensitive to host movement than to the direct effect of climatic conditions on parasite availability. Extended livestock grazing is predicted to increase parasite exposure for wildlife. These results demonstrate that movement of different host species should be considered when predicting the effects of climate change on parasite transmission, and can inform decisions to support wildlife and livestock health.

Original languageEnglish
Article number230469
Number of pages14
JournalRoyal Society Open Science
Volume11
Issue number1
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 03 Jan 2024

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