Invading with biological weapons: The role of shared disease in ecological invasion

Sally S. Bell, Andrew White, Jonathan A. Sherratt, Mike Boots

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

25 Citations (Scopus)


Theory has been developed that examines the role of infectious disease in ecological invasions for particular natural systems. However, a general understanding of the role that shared disease may play in invasions is lacking. Here, we develop a strategic theoretical framework to determine the role of disease, in addition to competition, in ecological invasions and the expansion of species' spatial range. We investigate the effect of different disease parameters on the replacement time of a native species by an alien invader. The outcome is critically dependent on the relative effects that the disease has on the two species and less dependent on the basic epidemiological characteristics of the interaction. This framework is also used to investigate the effect of disease on the spatial spread of the invader. Our results show an interesting phenomenon where a wave of disease spreads through the landscape ahead of the wave of replacement. © Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2008.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)53-66
Number of pages14
JournalTheoretical Ecology
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2009


  • Disease models
  • Ecological invasions
  • Multi-species
  • Spatial
  • Squirrel pox
  • Travelling waves


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