Dispersal, host genotype and environment shape the spatial dynamics of a parasite in the wild
Ekholm, Adam | Roslin, Tomas | Pulkkinen, Pertti | Tack, Ayco J. M.
Dispersal, environment and genetic variation may all play a role in shaping hostâparasite dynamics. Yet, in natural systems, their relative importance remains unresolved. Here, we do so for the epidemiology of a specialist parasite (Erysiphe alphitoides) on the pedunculate oak (Quercus robur). For this purpose, we combine evidence from a multiâyear field survey and two dispersal experiments, all conducted at the landscape scale. Patterns detected in the field survey suggest that the parasite is structured as a metapopulation, with trees in denser oak stands characterized by higher parasite occupancy, higher colonization rates and lower extinction rates. The dispersal experiments revealed a major impact of the environment and of host genotype on the presence and abundance of the parasite, with a weaker but detectable imprint of dispersal limitation. Overall, our findings emphasize that dispersal, host genotype and the environment jointly shape the spatial dynamics of a parasite in the wild.Show more [+] Less [-]