Geographic variation in seasonality and its influence on the dynamics of an infectious disease
Seasonal changes in environmental drivers - such as temperature, rainfall, and resource availability - have the potential to shape infection dynamics through their reverberating effects on biological processes including host abundance and susceptibility to infection. However, seasonality varies geographically. We therefore expect marked differences in infection dynamics between regions with different seasonal patterns. By pairing extensive Avian Influenza Virus (AIV) surveillance data - 65 358 individual bird samples from 12 species of dabbling ducks sampled at 174 locations across North America - with quantification of seasonality using remote sensed data indicative for primary productivity (normalised differenced vegetation index, NDVI), we provide evidence that seasonal dynamics influence infection dynamics across a continent. More pronounced epidemics were seen to occur in regions experiencing a higher degree of seasonality, and epidemics of lower amplitude and longer duration occurred in regions with a more protracted and lower seasonal amplitude. These results demonstrate the potential importance of geographic variation in seasonality for explaining geographic variation in the dynamics of infectious diseases in wildlife.