Navigation Links
UF expert: Biodiversity loss correlates with increases in infectious disease
Date:12/1/2010

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.

To illustrate this point, the researchers use an example study of how a dwindling population of opossums in Virginia forests contributes to the spread of Lyme disease. Opossums are able to effectively kill disease-carrying ticks when the ticks attach to them, helping to limit the population of the parasite. When opossum populations decline, tick populations flourish and feed off the Virginia white-footed mouse, which is less able to defend itself from the blood-feeding ticks. In addition, the mouse's ability to reproduce quickly and in great numbers means there are more vulnerable hosts available. Species that are resilient to human impacts may often have correlated biological traits that permit them to be effective hosts of pathogens.

The area and spatial arrangement of natural spaces also can influence the likelihood for diseases to jump from animals to humans. Experts have linked the recent rapid rise of Avian influenza in Asia to bird habitat loss. Holt said Avian influenza is a worry for people in the United States, but in contrast to Asia, many U.S. national wildlife reserves provide refuges for migratory birds that helps to keep the illness at bay, whereas wetland degradation in other parts of the world may force migrating waterfowl into sites where they have contact with domestic fowl.

Global biodiversity has declined rapidly in the last 60 years and extinction rates are projected to rise dramatically in the next five decades. The patterns described in the paper suggest that there will be correlated, complex effects on disease incidence and emergence, Holt said.

Biodiversity also occurs within individual hosts, such as with humans. Environmental changes, including the overuse of antibiotics, can result in a less bacteria-rich environment within the human body. In the Nature article, the experts suggest that a decline in overall biodiversity will affect the bacterial richness and composition of the human community of microbial symbionts, making the body less able ward off disease.

"When a clinical trial of a drug shows that it works," said Keesing, the paper's lead author, "the trial is halted so the drug can be made available. In a similar way, the protective effect of biodiversity is clear enough that we need to begin implementing policies to preserve it now."


'/>"/>

Contact: Robert D. Holt
rdholt@ufl.edu
352-392-6917
University of Florida
Source:Eurekalert

Related biology news :

1. Wetlands expert: China should think outside the flooding box with Three Gorges Dam
2. Oklahoma researchers support biodiversity in biofuels production
3. Minnesota ecology professor wins international award for biodiversity and biofuels research
4. Smithsonian perspective: Biodiversity in a warmer world
5. DFG continues to strengthen biodiversity research
6. European biodiversity and ecosystem scientists merge and gear up for long-term research
7. Study confirms amphibians ability to predict changes in biodiversity
8. Marine invasive species advance 50km per decade, World Conference on Marine Biodiversity told
9. Marine invasive species advance 50 km per decade, World Conference on Marine Biodiversity told
10. Networks of small habitat patches can preserve urban biodiversity
11. Alpine rivers hold important clues for preserving biodiversity and coping with climate change
Post Your Comments:
*Name:
*Comment:
*Email:
(Date:6/22/2016)... 22, 2016  The American College of Medical Genetics and ... Magazine as one of the fastest-growing trade shows during ... the Bellagio in Las Vegas . ... of growth in each of the following categories: net square ... number of attendees. The 2015 ACMG Annual Meeting was ranked ...
(Date:6/22/2016)... June 22, 2016   Acuant , ... verification solutions, has partnered with RightCrowd ® ... for Visitor Management, Self-Service Kiosks and Continuous ... that add functional enhancements to existing physical ... and venues with an automated ID verification ...
(Date:6/22/2016)... 2016 On Monday, the Department of Homeland ... share solutions for the Biometric Exit Program. The Request ... Protection (CBP), explains that CBP intends to add biometrics ... the United States , in order to deter ... Logo - http://photos.prnewswire.com/prnh/20160622/382209LOGO ...
Breaking Biology News(10 mins):
(Date:6/24/2016)... ... 2016 , ... Researchers at the Universita Politecnica delle Marche in Ancona combed ... pleural mesothelioma. Their findings are the subject of a new article on the Surviving ... signposts in the blood, lung fluid or tissue of mesothelioma patients that can help ...
(Date:6/23/2016)... A person commits a crime, and the detective ... the criminal down. An outbreak of foodborne illness ... (FDA) uses DNA evidence to track down the bacteria that ... It,s not. The FDA has increasingly used a complex, cutting-edge ... illnesses. Put as simply as possible, whole genome sequencing is ...
(Date:6/23/2016)... SAN FRANCISCO , June 23, 2016   ... it has secured $1 million in debt financing from ... to ramp up automation and to advance its drug ... for its new facility. "SVB has been ... goes beyond the services a traditional bank would provide," ...
(Date:6/23/2016)... NEWPORT BEACH, Calif. , June 23, 2016 /PRNewswire/ ... offering new biological discoveries to the medical community, has ... and co-founder Matthew Nunez . "We ... provide us with the capital we need to meet ... funding will essentially provide us the runway to complete ...
Breaking Biology Technology: