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A Combination of Species Evenness and Functional Diversity Is the Best Predictor of Disease Risk in Multihost Communities

Lifan Chen and Shurong Zhou
The American Naturalist
Vol. 186, No. 6 (December 2015), pp. 755-765
DOI: 10.1086/683774
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/10.1086/683774
Page Count: 11
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A Combination of Species Evenness and Functional Diversity Is the Best Predictor of Disease Risk in Multihost Communities
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Abstract

AbstractAlthough accumulated evidence has shown that biodiversity can play an important role in disease transmission and prevalence, it remains unclear how different measures of diversity based on taxonomy or function perform in predicting disease risk. In this article, we assess the relative ability of species richness, Shannon’s evenness index, single functional traits, and several functional diversity metrics and their interactions to predict disease risk in both nonequilibrium and equilibrium communities simulated by a multihost epidemiological model. On the basis of generalized linear models and Akaike’s information criterion, we found that Shannon’s evenness index outperforms species richness as a single variable in explaining variation in disease risk, while the best combination consists of Shannon’s evenness index and functional diversity. This study is, to our knowledge, the first to demonstrate the important role played by species evenness and functional diversity in accounting for variation in disease risk in multihost communities.

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