The Species Interaction in Transmission (SpIT!) group met virtually in mid-April to discuss and approve a timeline for group research. As laid out in the document the group created at the RCN, SpIT! will investigate whether predation influences vector traits relevant to vector-borne disease (VBD) transmission. The group will explore the following questions:
1. What evidence is there that vector populations of any stage are regulated by predators?
2. What are the direct and indirect effects of predators on vector traits and transmission?
3. What life history and vector traits determine whether vector population regulation by predators exists?
4. Do these predator prey interactions lead to selection on the vector trait?
The group selected the interaction of predation to focus on first out of the following list of interactions: Coinfections (vectored or not), Predation / parasitoids / vector pathogen (hosts, non hosts), Competition with other vectors, Microbiome, Endosymbiont / mutualisms, and Hosts.
The group will first carry out a literature search on the following traits with the questions above in mind: Survival (juvenile / adult), Fecundity, Development rate, Host preference (behavior), Biting rate (behavior), Dispersal, Phenology (seasonal / daily), Competence, Transmission mode, Immunology / Resistance / Susceptibility.
The review will feedback and inform a general model and develop a modeling framework for effects of predation on vector populations and vector traits influencing transmission of VBD. The group plans to organize a SMASH to propose at the next RCN meeting.
To get everyone thinking about the process of developing a model framework, group member Fadoua El Moustaid presented her exploration of the model found in Moore et al 2010 (J. R. Soc. Interface (2010) 7, 161–176). She explained the model and parameter sensitivities, collected feedback, and answered questions from the group. The next directions are to get informed feedback on how to modify and apply this model to specific systems and incorporate vector traits into the model. The group will meet again virtually in June.
By SpIT group leader: Catherine M. Herzog