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Declines in large wildlife lead to increases in disease risk
Date:4/29/2014

rge wildlife declines," Young said. "This phenomena that we call rodentation the proliferation of rodents triggered by large wildlife loss has been observed in sites around the world."

Downturns in wildlife numbers can cause rodent increases in a variety of ways, including by providing more access to food and better shelter. "The result is that we expect that the loss of large animals may lead to a general increase in human risk of rodent borne disease in a wide range of landscapes," Young said.

"In this study, we show the causal relationship between disturbance and disease is alarmingly straightforward," she added. "We knock out the large members of ecosystems, and the small species, which generally interact more closely with humans, dramatically increase in number, ultimately brewing up more disease among their ranks.

The study provides ecosystem managers with yet another reason to protect large and at-risk wildlife species. "Elephants are an irreplaceable part of our global biodiversity portfolio," Young said, "but they also appear to be circuitously protecting us from disease."


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Contact: Julie Cohen
julie.cohen@ucsb.edu
805-893-7220
University of California - Santa Barbara
Source:Eurekalert  

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