SICB Annual Meeting 2016
January 3-7, 2016
Oregon Convention Center - Portland, OR

Symposium: Are migratory animals superspreaders of infection?

Animal migrations have fascinated comparative and integrative biologists for centuries. There is now an emerging interest in the role of these mass movements in the transmission and evolution of parasites and pathogens in host communities. Migrating animals can encounter a broad range of parasites and transport parasites between distant locations. They also experience intense physiological demands of flight, potentially resulting in trade-offs with immune function and hence increased susceptibility to infection.

These aspects of migration have led to an almost universal assumption that migrations facilitate the long-distance dispersal of infections, with several high-profile exemplary cases including Ebola virus (dispersed by migratory fruit bats), and West Nile virus (dispersed by migratory songbirds). Yet migration may cull weak, infected individuals from a population or allow animals to escape habitats that have accumulated infectious particles. As a result, migratory behavior could reduce infection in a population, with consequences for pathogen transmission, pathogen evolution, and the evolution of migratory strategies. Ultimately, assessing the role of migrants in the transmission and evolution of pathogens within host communities requires a detailed understanding of the infection process, including the host's physiological, immunological, and behavioural changes during migration, and a broader understanding of the consequences of migration for transmission of infections among and between populations.

This symposium will highlight the complex link between migration and infection by exploring a wide range of questions, including: 1) What happens to individual host immunity during strenuous phases of migratory movement, and what are the consequences for individual infection? 2) How do infected animals perform during migration relative to uninfected animals? 3) How does migration affect patterns of disease among both resident and migrant populations? 4) How are disease dynamics changing with novel shifts in migratory strategies due to environmental change? The speakers will discuss aspects of individual migratory physiology (resource allocation, stress, reproductive investment) that are conventional SICB topical areas, but we will also tread some relatively new ground for the society by integrating work using computational approaches to study population-level consequences of migration for disease.

Sponsors: DEDE, DAB


  • Alexa Fritzsche McKay, Odum School of Ecology, University of Georgia
  • Bethany Hoye, Deakin University, Australia


S7.1 Wednesday, Jan. 6, 08:00 FRITZSCHE MCKAY, A*; EZENWA, VO; ALTIZER, S: Does migratory flight alter immunity in monarch butterflies?

S7.3 Wednesday, Jan. 6, 09:00 MATSON, K.D.*; VAN DIJK, J.G.B.: Let\\\'s get physical! Viewing ecological immunology through the lens of exercise physiology to disentangle the effects of movement and migration.

S7.4 Wednesday, Jan. 6, 09:30 SRYGLEY, R.B.*: Hannibal goes for a stroll: How diet and migration can compromise immunity

S7.5 Wednesday, Jan. 6, 10:30 HOYE, Bethany J*; BAUER, Silke S: How does infection alter animal migrations?

S7.6 Wednesday, Jan. 6, 11:00 MERKLE, J.M.*; CROSS, P.C.; SCURLOCK, B.M.; KAUFFMAN, M.J.: Linking plant phenology and elk migratory behavior to predict brucellosis risk in the Yellowstone ecosystem

S7.7 Wednesday, Jan. 6, 11:30 SATTERFIELD, D.A.*; ALTIZER , S.: Monarchs as a model system to understand mechanisms linking animal migration and infectious disease dynamics

S7.9 Wednesday, Jan. 6, 14:00 BOULINIER, Thierry*; KADA, Sarah; DUPRAZ, Marlene; PONCHON, Aurore; CHAMBERT, Thierry; GARNIER, Romain; MCCOY, Karen: Migration, prospecting, dispersal? What types of host movement matter for the circulation of infectious disease agents?

S7.10 Wednesday, Jan. 6, 14:30 HILL, Nichola J.*; MA, Eric J.; MEIXELL, Brandt W.; LINDBERG, Mark; BOYCE, Walter M.; RUNSTADLER, Jonathan A.: Evidence of seasonality in a host-pathogen system: Influenza across the annual cycle of wild birds

S7.11 Wednesday, Jan. 6, 15:00 HALL, RJ*; BROWN, LM; ALTIZER, S: Modeling Vector-borne Disease Risk in Migratory Animals under Climate Change