A new study forecasts when climate factors such as temperature, humidity and rainfall will match at geographically distant airline departure and destination points, which could help to shuffle invasive species, and the diseases they may carry, across the globe along existing flight routes. The findings provide a framework that could help people who monitor airline flights --- and the people, baggage and cargo aboard --- to plan more efficiently and accurately for detecting and intercepting invasives.
Andy Tatem, who holds a joint position at the Emerging Pathogens Institute and the University of Florida's geography department, said his model uses the latest forecast data for climate change and air traffic volumes.
"The problem is that as the global transport networks expand, we're getting more and more invasive species and pathogens coming from different parts of the world that have survived isolated for thousands of years," said Tatem, who joined UF in January. "But now they have this high-speed link going between different regions of the world."
The study was published online Jan. 22 in the journal Ecography, and the work was performed in his previous position at the University of Oxford.
Tatem predicts a peak risk will be reached in June 2010, when multiple factors converge to create a month when the climate factors at many flight origin and destination airports would be most similar.
"The model shows us that climatic shifts are not greatly significant over the next few years," Tatem said. "But the great increase in traffic volumes from expanding economies in India and China are likely to have a significant effect on moving species. This gives us much more of a detailed idea on the importance of key risk factors and how these change over time, compared to previous work we did in 2007."
Tatem reached his conclusions by comparing fine-scale global climate models for 2009 and 2010 prepared by the
|Contact: Davina Quarterman|