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Host Specificity in Variable Environments
- Wells, Konstans, Clark, Nicholas J.
- Trends in parasitology 2019 v.35 no.6 pp. 452-465
- emerging diseases, empirical research, environmental factors, global change, host range, host specificity, host-parasite relationships, hosts, models, parasites, risk
- Host specificity encompasses the range and diversity of host species that a parasite is capable of infecting and is considered a crucial measure of a parasite’s potential to shift hosts and trigger disease emergence. Yet empirical studies rarely consider that regional observations only reflect a parasite’s ‘realized’ host range under particular conditions: the true ‘fundamental’ range of host specificity is typically not approached. We provide an overview of challenges and directions in modelling host specificity under variable environmental conditions. Combining tractable modelling frameworks with multiple data sources that account for the strong interplay between a parasite's evolutionary history, transmission mode, and environmental filters that shape host–parasite interactions will improve efforts to quantify emerging disease risk in times of global change.