Mammalian Ecology and Epidemiology of Zoonoses

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Science  18 Dec 1970:
Vol. 170, Issue 3964, pp. 1275-1279
DOI: 10.1126/science.170.3964.1275


Insufficient use has been made of ecological data concerning potential hosts in studies to determine the life cycles of zoonotic parasites and pathogens. Factors such as the geographical distribution of hosts, the altitudes at which they live, their affinities for specific habitats, their vertical distribution within the habitat, and the periodicity of their activities have bearing on the hosts' predisposition to involvement in disease cycles. Diets and feeding habits may determine the likelihood of acquiring infection. Reproductive characteristics determine whether a species is suitable as a reservoir or as an amplifying host. Behavioral factors, such as selection of a particular kind of nest site, may also predispose the involvement of the host with parasites and pathogens. Behavior patterns may determine the maximum population densities of hosts. Estimates of population sizes, of relative abundances of species, and of the involvement of species in disease cycles may be strongly influenced by the collecting and sampling methods that are used and also by the behavioral response of the mammals toward collecting devices, such as traps.