Cary Conference XI: Infectious Disease Ecology: Effects of Disease on Ecosystems and of Ecosystems on Disease (Institute of Ecosystem Studies)
Biodiversity acts as a buffer against infectious disease transmission within ecosystems, researchers have concluded. The finding suggests that loss of species from an environment could have significant consequences for the spread and incidence of infections, including those that affect humans.
The study has significant implications for the conservation and health fields and provides evidence that biodiversity pays off in health benefits for people.
In this collaboration, 13 authors reviewed dozens of earlier studies in search of common patterns. They found that higher biodiversity tended to decrease the rate at which diseases were transmitted. The species most likely to disappear as biodiversity declined were those that buffered infectious disease transmission. The species that remained tended to be the ones that magnified the transmission of infectious diseases such as West Nile virus, Lyme disease and hantavirus. The highly biodiverse ecosystems dampened a pathogen's ability to spread among humans. The evidence supporting the research addressed diseases including West Nile fever, schistosomiasis and Lyme disease.
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