It is currently unclear whether changes in viral communities will ever be predictable. Here we investigate whether viral communities in wildlife are inherently structured (inferring predictability) by looking at whether communities are assembled through deterministic (often predictable) or stochastic (not predictable) processes. We sample macaque faeces across nine sites in Bangladesh and use consensus PCR and sequencing to discover 184 viruses from 14 viral families. We then use network modelling and statistical null-hypothesis testing to show the presence of non-random deterministic patterns at different scales, between sites and within individuals. We show that the effects of determinism are not absolute however, as stochastic patterns are also observed. In showing that determinism is an important process in viral community assembly we conclude that it should be possible to forecast changes to some portion of a viral community, however there will always be some portion for which prediction will be unlikely.
- Biological sciences