It helps to be well connected

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Science  13 Jun 2014:
Vol. 344, Issue 6189, pp. 1229-1230
DOI: 10.1126/science.1255350

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Parasites are everywhere. Yet despite this ubiquity, they are not in all places at all times. For a particular host-parasite pairing, infections vary greatly over space and time, with some but not all host populations suffering infections in a given year. What drives this variation? This question is important not just because parasites can have major ecological and evolutionary impacts, but also because disease outbreaks can have devastating impacts in agricultural systems and on species of conservation concern (1, 2). On page 1289 of this issue, Jousimo et al. (3) investigate how being highly connected to other populations affects the likelihood of a Plantago population being colonized by a fungal pathogen.