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A meta-analysis on global change drivers and the risk of infectious disease.


Anthropogenic change is contributing to the rise in emerging infectious diseases, which are significantly correlated with socioeconomic, environmental and ecological factors. Studies have shown that infectious disease risk is modified by changes to biodiversity, climate change, chemical pollution, landscape transformations and species introductions. However, it remains unclear which global change drivers most increase disease and under what contexts. Here we amassed a dataset from the literature that contains 2,938 observations of infectious disease responses to global change drivers across 1,497 host-parasite combinations, including plant, animal and human hosts. We found that biodiversity loss, chemical pollution, climate change and introduced species are associated with increases in disease-related end points or harm, whereas urbanization is associated with decreases in disease end points. Natural biodiversity gradients, deforestation and forest fragmentation are comparatively unimportant or idiosyncratic as drivers of disease. Overall, these results are consistent across human and non-human diseases. Nevertheless, context-dependent effects of the global change drivers on disease were found to be common. The findings uncovered by this meta-analysis should help target disease management and surveillance efforts towards global change drivers that increase disease. Specifically, reducing greenhouse gas emissions, managing ecosystem health, and preventing biological invasions and biodiversity loss could help to reduce the burden of plant, animal and human diseases, especially when coupled with improvements to social and economic determinants of health.

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Journal Article
Mahon M
Sack A
Aleuy AO
Barbera C
Brown E
Buelow H
Civitello D
Cohen J
de Wit L
Forstchen M
Halliday F
Heffernan P
Knutie S
Korotasz A
Larson J
Rumschlag S
Selland E
Shepack A
Vincent N
Rohr J

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