U.S. Department of Agriculture: Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service


Date of this Version



Ecology Letters (2015) 18: 1153–1162


U.S. Government Work


Bats are natural reservoirs of several important emerging viruses. Cross-species transmission appears to be quite common among bats, which may contribute to their unique reservoir potential. Therefore, understanding the importance of bats as reservoirs requires examining them in a community context rather than concentrating on individual species. Here, we use a network approach to identify ecological and biological correlates of cross-species virus transmission in bats and rodents, another important host group. We show that given our current knowledge the bat viral sharing network is more connected than the rodent network, suggesting viruses may pass more easily between bat species. We identify host traits associated with important reservoir species: gregarious bats are more likely to share more viruses and bats which migrate regionally are important for spreading viruses through the network. We identify multiple communities of viral sharing within bats and rodents and highlight potential species traits that can help guide studies of novel pathogen emergence.

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