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Too much of a good thing: resource provisioning alters infectious disease dynamics in wildlife.

ABSTRACT

Provisioning of abundant food resources in human-altered landscapes can have profound effects on wildlife ecology, with important implications for pathogen transmission. While empirical studies have quantified the effects of provisioning on host behaviour and immunology, the net interactive effect of these components on host-pathogen dynamics is unknown. We use simple compartmental models to investigate how provisioning-induced changes to host demography, contact behaviour and immune defence influence pathogen invasion and persistence. We show that pathogen invasion success and equilibrium prevalence depend critically on how provisioning affects host immune defence and that moderate levels of provisioning can lead to drastically different outcomes of pathogen extinction or maximizing prevalence. These results highlight the need for further empirical studies to fully understand how provisioning affects pathogen transmission in urbanized environments.