Repository logo

Network analysis of host-virus communities in bats and rodents reveals determinants of cross-species transmission.



Change log


Luis, Angela D 
O'Shea, Thomas J 
Hayman, David TS 
Wood, James LN 
Cunningham, Andrew A 


Bats are natural reservoirs of several important emerging viruses. Cross-species transmission appears to be quite common among bats, which may contribute to their unique reservoir potential. Therefore, understanding the importance of bats as reservoirs requires examining them in a community context rather than concentrating on individual species. Here, we use a network approach to identify ecological and biological correlates of cross-species virus transmission in bats and rodents, another important host group. We show that given our current knowledge the bat viral sharing network is more connected than the rodent network, suggesting viruses may pass more easily between bat species. We identify host traits associated with important reservoir species: gregarious bats are more likely to share more viruses and bats which migrate regionally are important for spreading viruses through the network. We identify multiple communities of viral sharing within bats and rodents and highlight potential species traits that can help guide studies of novel pathogen emergence.



Chiroptera, Rodentia, ecological networks, emerging infectious disease, zoonoses

Journal Title

Ecol Lett

Conference Name

Journal ISSN


Volume Title



This work was supported by the Research and Policy for Infectious Disease Dynamics (RAPIDD) program of the Science and Technology Directorate (US Department of Homeland Security) and the Fogarty International Center (National Institutes of Health). D.T.S.H. acknowledges funding from a David H. Smith post-doctoral fellowship. A.A.C. is partially funded by a Royal Society Wolfson Research Merit award, and J.L.N.W. is supported by the Alborada Trust. Thanks to Paul Cryan and Michael O'Donnell of the USGS Fort Collins Science Center for help with species distribution analyses.