Behavioural phenotypes may provide a means for identifying individuals that disproportionally contribute to disease spread and epizootic outbreaks. For example, bolder phenotypes may experience greater exposure and susceptibility to pathogenic infection because of distinct interactions with conspecifics and their environment. We tested the value of behavioural phenotypes in larval amphibians for predicting ranavirus transmission in experimental trials. We found that behavioural phenotypes characterized by latency-to-food and swimming profiles were predictive of disease susceptibility and infectiousness defined as the capacity of an infected host to transmit an infection by contacts. While viral shedding rates were positively associated with transmission, we also found an inverse relationship between contacts and infections. Together these results suggest intrinsic traits that influence behaviour and the quantity of pathogens shed during conspecific interactions may be an important contributor to ranavirus transmission. These results suggest that behavioural phenotypes provide a means to identify individuals more likely to spread disease and thus give insights into disease outbreaks that threaten wildlife and humans.
- Received June 6, 2016.
- Accepted July 28, 2016.
- © 2016 The Author(s)
Published by the Royal Society. All rights reserved.