The impact of resources on parasite transmission in wildlife communities


Habitat modification has profound effects on ecosystems, altering the quantity and distribution of resources in the environment. One overlooked way that changes in environmental resources impact biodiversity is through effects on the parasites circulating within those communities. However, understanding how resource changes affect parasite transmission is a major challenge, due to complex interactions between processes acting at multiple levels (e.g., host immunology, contact rates, demography and population size).

We have previously addressed this issue both empirically, through field manipulation experiments of wood mouse parasite communities, and theoretically, by developing generalised frameworks that integrate the multiple pathways by which resources impact parasite transmission. However, we need to integrate these approaches, using the data to parameterize, validate and refine our models. This will generate a coherent understanding of how resources impact transmission across a range of host-parasite systems, and resource distributions.

Based on our existing data and theoretical frameworks, this studentship will address the following objectives:

1.      Tailor the general models to a range of different parasite types infecting the wood mouse system

2.      Through fitting to the empirical data, compare model-predicted effects of resource supplementation to those seen experimentally, for each parasite species

3.      Expand and refine the theory to derive a holistic understanding of different resource impacts on host-parasite dynamics with the ability to predict the impact of anthropogenic resources on natural host-parasite systems.

Given increasing concerns over how anthropogenic activities impact natural ecosystems, this project is important, timely, and will provide much-needed insight into how shifts in resource availability and distribution drive parasite dynamics in ecosystems.

This project will suit highly numerate candidates with an interest in infectious disease ecology. The successful candidate will be embedded in the highly collaborative research groups of the supervisory team, and will receive training in disease ecology concepts, theories and analytical techniques.


Notes and details of how to apply are available here:

All applicants to ACCE must complete the ACCE personal statement proforma. This is instead of a normal personal/supporting statement/cover letter. The proforma is designed to standardise this part of the application to minimise the difference between those who are given support and those who are not.

The ACCE DTP is committed to recruiting extraordinary future scientists regardless of age, ethnicity, gender, gender identity, disability, sexual orientation or career pathway to date. We understand that commitment and excellence can be shown in many ways and have built our recruitment process to reflect this. We welcome applicants from all backgrounds, particularly those underrepresented in science, who have curiosity, creativity and a drive to learn new skills.

Informal enquiries may be made to 


Open to students worldwide

Funding information

Funded studentship

NERC ACCE DTP in Ecology and Evolution, programme starts October 2023.
UKRI provide the following funding for 3.5 years:
• Stipend (2022/23 UKRI rate £17,668)
• Tuition Fees at UK fee rate (2022/23 rate £4,596)
• Research support and training grant (RTSG)
Note - UKRI funding only covers UK (Home) fees (£4,596 at 2022/23 rate). A limited number of international fee bursaries will be awarded on a competitive basis. However, if selected International and EU fee rate candidates may need to cover the remaining amount of tuition fees by securing additional funding. International fees for 2022/23 entry were £25,950 (full time) per annum.



Erazo, D., Pedersen, A.B. & Fenton, A. 2022. The predicted impact of resource provisioning on the epidemiological responses of different parasites. Journal of Animal Ecology 91, 1719-1730. DOI: 10.1111/1365-2656.13751
Daversa, D.R., Bosch,, J., Manica, A., Garner, T.W.J. & Fenton, A. 2022. Host identity matters – up to a point: the community context of Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis transmission. The American Naturalist. In press.
Erazo, D., Pedersen, A.B., Gallagher, K.(*) & Fenton, A. 2021. Who acquires infection from whom? Estimating herpesvirus transmission rates between wild rodent host groups. Epidemics 35, 100451.
Sweeny, A.(*), Albery, G.(*),Venkatesan, S.(*), Fenton, A. & Pedersen, A.B. 2021. Spatiotemporal variation in drivers of parasitism in a wild wood mouse population. Functional Ecology 35, 1277-1287.