Most spatial models of host–parasite interactions either neglect the possibility of pathogen evolution or consider that this process is slow enough for epidemiological dynamics to reach an equilibrium on a fast timescale. Here, we propose a novel approach to jointly model the epidemiological and evolutionary dynamics of spatially structured host and pathogen populations. Starting from a multi-strain epidemiological model, we use a combination of spatial moment equations and quantitative genetics to analyse the dynamics of mean transmission and virulence in the population. A key insight of our approach is that, even in the absence of long-term evolutionary consequences, spatial structure can affect the short-term evolution of pathogens because of the build-up of spatial differentiation in mean virulence. We show that spatial differentiation is driven by a balance between epidemiological and genetic effects, and this quantity is related to the effect of kin competition discussed in previous studies of parasite evolution in spatially structured host populations. Our analysis can be used to understand and predict the transient evolutionary dynamics of pathogens and the emergence of spatial patterns of phenotypic variation.
Electronic supplementary material is available online at https://dx.doi.org/10.6084/m9.figshare.c.3500436.
- Received May 27, 2016.
- Accepted September 19, 2016.
- © 2016 The Author(s)
Published by the Royal Society. All rights reserved.