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A Virus Reveals Population Structure and Recent Demographic History of Its Carnivore Host

Science  27 Jan 2006:
Vol. 311, Issue 5760, pp. 538-541
DOI: 10.1126/science.1121360

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Abstract

Directly transmitted parasites often provide substantial information about the temporal and spatial characteristics of host-to-host contact. Here, we demonstrate that a fast-evolving virus (feline immunodeficiency virus, FIV) can reveal details of the contemporary population structure and recent demographic history of its natural wildlife host (Puma concolor) that were not apparent from host genetic data and would be impossible to obtain by other means. We suggest that rapidly evolving pathogens may provide a complementary tool for studying population dynamics of their hosts in “shallow” time.

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