Infectious disease agents mediate interaction in food webs and ecosystems

S. Selaković, P.C. de Ruiter, J.A.P. Heesterbeek

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

39 Citations (Scopus)


Infectious agents are part of food webs and ecosystems via the relationship with their host species that, in turn, interact with both hosts and non-hosts. Through these interactions, infectious agents influence food webs in terms of structure, functioning and stability. The present literature shows a broad range of impacts of infectious agents on food webs, and by cataloguing that range, we worked towards defining the various mechanisms and their specific effects. To explore the impact, a direct approach is to study changes in food-web properties with infectious agents as separate species in the web, acting as additional nodes, with links to their host species. An indirect approach concentrates not on adding new nodes and links, but on the ways that infectious agents affect the existing links across host and non-host nodes, by influencing the 'quality' of consumer-resource interaction as it depends on the epidemiological state host involved. Both approaches are natural from an ecological point of view, but the indirect approach may connect more straightforwardly to commonly used tools in infectious disease dynamics.
Original languageEnglish
Article number20132709
Number of pages11
JournalProceedings of the Royal Society. B: Biological Sciences
Issue number1777
Publication statusPublished - 2014


  • biological-control
  • population-dynamics
  • species-diversity
  • mustela-nigripes
  • canine-distemper
  • african lions
  • host behavior
  • coral-reef
  • parasites
  • communities


Dive into the research topics of 'Infectious disease agents mediate interaction in food webs and ecosystems'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this