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Biodiversity loss correlates with increases in infectious disease

From the December 1, 2010 Eureka news alert

GAINESVILLE, Fla. — Habitat destruction and species extinction may lead to an increase in diseases that infect humans and other species, according to a paper in the journal Nature co-authored by a University of Florida ecologist.

In the paper to be published Thursday, UF biology professor Robert D. Holt and his colleagues reported that by reviewing studies from a wide range of systems, including data from plants, animals and bacteria, they were able to relate dimensions of environmental loss, and in particular species loss, with incidence of infectious disease. The study –- which was led by biologist Felicia Keesing of Bard College –- focused on diseases on the rise, such as West Nile virus, Lyme disease and Hantavirus.

“The general degradation of biodiversity because of land use transformation, combined with climate change, overharvesting, and so forth, is likely to have many perverse consequences for emerging pathogens,” said Holt, a UF Eminent Scholar associated with the Emerging Pathogens Institute. “You have to think both as an ecologist and an infectious disease specialist to grapple with questions like this.”

Some pathogens can flourish under less biologically diverse conditions, such as in areas where top predators or other key species become extinct…

December 2, 2010 Posted by | Consumer Health, Uncategorized | , , | 2 Comments

   

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