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Volume 76, Issue 2 p. 326-335

Social Barriers to Pathogen Transmission in Wild Animal Populations

First published: 01 March 1995
Citations: 390


Diseases and pathogens are receiving increasing recognition as sources of mortality in animal populations. Immune system strength is clearly important in fending off pathogen attack. Physical barriers to pathogen entry are also important. Various individual behaviors are efficacious in reducing contact with diseases and pests. This paper focuses on a fourth mode of defense: social barriers to transmission. Various social behaviors have pathogen transmission consequences. Selective pressures on these social behaviors may therefore exist. Effects on pathogen transmission of mating strategies, social avoidance, group size, group isolation, and other behaviors are explored. It is concluded that many of these behaviors may have been affected by selection pressures to reduce transmission of pathogens.