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  1. Animals exhibit a variety of behavioural defences against socially transmitted parasites. These defences evolved to increase host fitness by avoiding, resisting or tolerating infection.
  2. Because they can occur in both infected individuals and their uninfected social partners, these defences often have important consequences for the social group.
  3. Here, we discuss the evolution and ecology of anti-parasite behavioural defences across a taxonomically wide social spectrum, considering colonial groups, stable groups, transitional groups and solitary animals.
  4. We discuss avoidance, resistance and tolerance behaviours across these social group structures, identifying how social complexity, group composition and interdependent social relationships may contribute to the expression and evolution of behavioural strategies.
  5. Finally, we outline avenues for further investigation such as approaches to quantify group-level responses, and the connection of the physiological and behavioural response to parasites in different social contexts.


This is a pre-copy-editing, author-produced PDF of an article accepted for publication in Functional Ecology, volume 37, in 2023 following peer review. This article may not exactly replicate the final published version. The definitive publisher-authenticated version is available online at


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