Submitted to: Proceedings of the Royal Society of London B
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: August 3, 2005
Publication Date: December 4, 2005
Citation: Kutz, S.J., Hoberg, E.P., Polley, L., Jenkins, E.J. 2005. Global warming is changing the dynamics of arctic host-parasite systems. Proceedings of the Royal Society of London B. 272:2571-2576.
Interpretive Summary: Climate change has the potential to cause sweeping changes in the distribution of parasites and their hosts by altering abiotic conditions and dissolving ecological barriers. However, 'Determining how long-term climatic changes will affect the distributions of different parasites and pathogens at first seems a daunting task that almost defies quantification'29. The U. pallikuukensis model has allowed us to identify and quantify the effects of climate warming on rates of development for critical life history stages in a pathogenic parasite. Additionally, it has indicated critical thresholds of warming (i.e., 1C) where transmission rates are likely to shift in a non-linear manner. Such models and their empirical foundations serve as powerful baselines8;10;30 that will allow tracking of seasonal, annual and decadal changes in host-parasite systems across many ecosystems, including those in uniquely susceptible northern regions.
Global climate change is altering the ecology of infectious agents, and driving the emergence of disease in people, domestic animals, and wildlife. The Arctic is one of the areas of the world most vulnerable to climate change. We have developed a predictive model, based on empirical laboratory and field data, for the impact of climate warming on development rates for the infective stage of an important parasitic nematode of muskoxen in the central Canadian Arctic. The model predicts that anticipated warming for this region could radically alter the transmission dynamics of this parasite, escalating infection pressure for the muskoxen. The model provides a foundation for understanding responses to climate change of other host-parasite systems in the Arctic and elsewhere.