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

51 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

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • General Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology
  • General Agricultural and Biological Sciences


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