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Keeping the herds healthy and alert: implications of predator control for infectious disease


Predator control programmes are generally implemented in an attempt to increase prey population sizes. However, predator removal could prove harmful to prey populations that are regulated primarily by parasitic infections rather than by predation. We develop models for microparasitic and macroparasitic infection that specify the conditions where predator removal will (a) increase the incidence of parasitic infection, (b) reduce the number of healthy individuals in the prey population and (c) decrease the overall size of the prey population. In general, predator removal is more likely to be harmful when the parasite is highly virulent, macroparasites are highly aggregated in their prey, hosts are long-lived and the predators select infected prey.

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