Biodiversity loss is bad for your health
Wednesday 8 December 2010
The loss of animals and plants is bad for our health, shows a new study published in the journal Nature.
Scientists from a number of leading wildlife disease research institutions, including the Zoological Society of London (ZSL), highlighted that species loss in ecosystems such as forests results in an increase in disease-causing organisms.
The paper states that species most likely to disappear as biodiversity is lost are often those that buffer infectious disease transmission.
Those that remain when biodiversity disappears tend to be the ones that magnify the transmission of infectious diseases like West Nile virus and Lyme disease.
Dr Kate Jones, co-author from ZSL, says “This paper shows for the first time that conserving a rich diversity of wildlife has positive benefits for our health by minimising the transmission of infectious diseases.”
Global biodiversity has declined at an unprecedented rate since the 1950s and current extinction rates are projected to rise dramatically in the next 50 years.
Expanding human populations can also increase contact with novel diseases through activities such as land-clearing for agriculture and hunting.
The authors call for the conservation of natural habitats and the close monitoring of areas where a large number of domesticated animals are reared to avoid potential disease transmission from wildlife to livestock to humans.