• Dirk

Pathogens and Conservation - oneHEALTH


Future Earth, a global scientific networking organisation (formerly Diversitas), has created the Initiative oneHealth. The concept links environment, human activity, and health to find policy and societal solutions. P³ does fully adhere to the concept and does its share to contribute to our understanding on the ways human-mediated environmental changes (e.g. land use change, wildlife trade, deforestation, climate change, human migration) affect the health of wild and domestic animals, plants, and humans, resulting in both infectious and non-communicable diseases. P³ does explore the relationship between infectious diseases, biodiversity and ecosystems, and the impacts of climate change and demography on health.

On the same topic the journal Philosophical Transaction of the Royal Society has published an issue: Conservation, biodiversity and infectious disease: scientific evidence and policy implications. The editors of this issue write:

"Habitat destruction and infectious disease are dual threats to nature and people. The potential to simultaneously advance conservation and human health has attracted considerable scientific and popular interest; in particular, many authors have justified conservation action by pointing out potential public health benefits [1–5]. One major focus of this debate—that biodiversity conservation often decreases infectious disease transmission via the dilution effect—remains contentious [6–8]. Studies that test for a dilution effect often find a negative association between a diversity metric and a disease risk metric [8], but how such associations should inform conservation policy remains unclear for several reasons. For one, diversity and infection risk have many definitions, making it possible to identify measures that conform to expectations [9]. Furthermore, the premise that habitat destruction consistently reduces biodiversity is in question [10,11], and disturbance or conservation can affect disease in many ways other than through biodiversity change [12,13]. To date, few studies have examined the broader set of mechanisms by which anthropogenic disturbance or conservation might increase or decrease infectious disease risk to human populations (e.g. [14–17]). Due to interconnections between biodiversity change, economics and human behaviour (e.g. [18]), moving from ecological theory to policy action requires understanding how social and economic factors affect conservation."

The focus of this issue is mainly on human-relevant pathogens and diseases, but generally makes clear that we are only at the beginning of understanding these complex interactions of human-mediated changes, biodiversity loss, pathogens, and degrading ecosystem functioning. P³ in particular works on this topic focusing on amphibians, as amphibians are key elements in many ecosystems and are currently highly threatened by introduced pathogens, including Batrachochytrium dendrobatitis, B. salamandrivorans, and several ranaviruses. We also need to understand how ecosystem health translate in abundance of microorganisms, the invisible force in nature. We therefore use a multidisciplinary approach to understand ecosystem health in mountain ecosystems.

Schmeller, D.S., Loyau, A., Bao, K., Brack, W., Chatzinotas, A., De Vleeschouwer, F., Friesen, J., Gandois, L., Hansson, S.V., Haver, M., Le Roux, G., Shen, J., Teisserenc, R., Vredenburg, V.T., (2018). People, pollution and pathogens - global change impacts in mountain freshwater ecosystems. Science of the Total Environment 622–623: 756-763.

#Amphibians #Freshwater

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