Host infection and disease-induced mortality modify species contributions to the environmental reservoir

Nichole A. Laggan, Katy L. Parise, J. Paul White, Heather M. Kaarakka, Jennifer A. Redell, John E. DePue, William H. Scullon, Joseph Kath, Jeffrey T. Foster, A. Marm Kilpatrick, Kate E. Langwig, Joseph R. Hoyt

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Scopus citations


Environmental pathogen reservoirs exist for many globally important diseases and can fuel epidemics, influence pathogen evolution, and increase the threat of host extinction. Species composition can be an important factor that shapes reservoir dynamics and ultimately determines the outcome of a disease outbreak. However, disease-induced mortality can change species communities, indicating that species responsible for environmental reservoir maintenance may change over time. Here we examine the reservoir dynamics of Pseudogymnoascus destructans, the fungal pathogen that causes white-nose syndrome in bats. We quantified changes in pathogen shedding, infection prevalence and intensity, host abundance, and the subsequent propagule pressure imposed by each species over time. We find that highly shedding species are important during pathogen invasion, but contribute less over time to environmental contamination as they also suffer the greatest declines. Less infected species remain more abundant, resulting in equivalent or higher propagule pressure. More broadly, we demonstrate that high infection intensity and subsequent mortality during disease progression can reduce the contributions of high-shedding species to long-term pathogen maintenance.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbere4147
Issue number10
StatePublished - Oct 2023


  • emerging infectious disease
  • environmental pathogen reservoir
  • environmental transmission
  • host infectiousness
  • pathogen shedding
  • white-nose syndrome

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics


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