[S7] Sociality and disease

Parasites are omnipresent and exert strong selection pressures on hosts to evolve effective counter-defences. Our understanding of host-parasite interactions and their coevolution has largely focussed on individuals, yet, a great number of animals are social, and the role of social interactions in disease defence and epidemiology is still relatively poorly understood. For example, in both invertebrate and vertebrate societies, infectious and susceptible individuals are more likely to come into contact, meaning parasites will spread more easily. Therefore, social context will affect host-pathogen co-evolution considerably. In response to selection acting at both the individual and society level, many social animals have evolved collective disease defences. These defences fall into three broad categories: behavioural, physiological and organisational, and pose a formidable barrier to infection and parasite transmission. Although animal societies are expected to differ in their use of social vs. individual immunity, common patterns are expected to emerge. We believe that reoccurring motives observed across the vast variety of social organisation in animals provide unique insights into the role and importance of society-level disease defences. We therefore invite contributions that shed light on our understanding of individual versus collective immunity in animal societies and their role in host-parasite interactions.
 
Organizers: Matthias Fürst, Barbara Milutinovic, Christopher Pull
 
Invited speakers: Rebecca Kilner, Charles Nunn