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


Date of this Version



PLoS ONE 12(11): e0187035.


© 2017 Lewis et al.

Open access



Transmission of pathogens among animals is influenced by demographic, social, and environmental factors. Anthropogenic alteration of landscapes can impact patterns of disease dynamics in wildlife populations, increasing the potential for spillover and spread of emerging infectious diseases in wildlife, human, and domestic animal populations. We evaluated the effects of multiple ecological mechanisms on patterns of pathogen exposure in animal populations. Specifically, we evaluated how ecological factors affected the prevalence of Toxoplasma gondii (Toxoplasma), Bartonella spp. (Bartonella), feline immunodeficiency virus (FIV), and feline calicivirus (FCV) in bobcat and puma populations across wildlandurban interface (WUI), low-density exurban development, and wildland habitat on the Western Slope (WS) and Front Range (FR) of Colorado during 2009±2011. Samples were collected from 37 bobcats and 29 pumas on the WS and FR. As predicted, age appeared to be positively related to the exposure to pathogens that are both environmentally transmitted (Toxoplasma) and directly transmitted between animals (FIV). In addition, WS bobcats appeared more likely to be exposed to Toxoplasma with increasing intraspecific space-use overlap. However, counter to our predictions, exposure to directly-transmitted pathogens (FCV and FIV) was more likely with decreasing space-use overlap (FCV: WS bobcats) and potential intraspecific contacts (FIV: FR pumas). Environmental factors, including urbanization and landscape covariates, were generally unsupported in our models. This study is an approximation of how pathogens can be evaluated in relation to demographic, social, and environmental factors to understand pathogen exposure in wild animal populations.

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