Infectious Disease in Wild Animal Populations: Examining Transmission and Control with Mathematical Models

  • Sergey S. BergEmail author
  • James D. Forester
  • Meggan E. Craft
Part of the Advances in Environmental Microbiology book series (AEM, volume 5)


The mathematical modeling of ecological interactions is an essential tool in predicting the behavior of complex systems across landscapes. The scientific literature is growing with examples of models used to explore predator-prey interactions, resource selection, population growth, and dynamics of disease transmission. These models provide managers with an efficient alternative means of testing new management and control strategies without resorting to empirical testing that is often costly, time-consuming, and impractical. This chapter presents a review of four types of mathematical models used to understand and predict the spread of infectious diseases in wild animals: compartmental, metapopulation, spatial, and contact network models. Descriptions of each model’s uses and limitations are used to provide a look at the complexities involved in modeling the spread of diseases and the trade-offs that accompany selecting one modeling approach over another. Potential avenues for the improvement and use of these models in future studies are also discussed, as are specific examples of how each type of model has improved our understanding of infectious diseases in populations of wild animals.


Wildlife disease Mathematical modeling Vaccination Culling SIR models Network models 



We wish to thank Lauren White, John Fieberg, and Todd Arnold for providing invaluable feedback during the preparation of this chapter.

Compliance with Ethical Standards


This material is based upon work supported by the National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowship under Grant No. 00006595 and the University of Minnesota Institute on the Environment.

Conflict of Interest

Sergey S. Berg declares that he has no conflict of interest. James D. Forester declares that he has no conflict of interest. Meggan E. Craft declares that she has no conflict of interest.

Ethical Approval

This article does not contain any studies with human participants or animals performed by any of the authors.


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Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing AG, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Sergey S. Berg
    • 1
    Email author
  • James D. Forester
    • 2
  • Meggan E. Craft
    • 3
  1. 1.Department of Computer and Information SciencesUniversity of St. ThomasSt. PaulUSA
  2. 2.Department of Fisheries, Wildlife, and Conservation BiologyUniversity of MinnesotaSt. PaulUSA
  3. 3.Department of Veterinary Population MedicineUniversity of MinnesotaSt. PaulUSA

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