- A loss of biodiversity leads to an increase in the spread of disease. Researchers speculate this is because some species are better at buffering disease transmission. An example of this is that species that have low rates of reproduction or invest heavily in immunity tend to be more strongly impacted by losses of biodiversity than those with high reproduction rates or those that invest less in immunity (and would consequently be more likely disease hosts).
- The study examines 12 diseases from different ecosystems worldwide, including Lyme disease. In eastern North America, the white-footed mouse is simultaneously the most abundant host species, the most competent host for the Lyme bacterium, and the highest-quality host for immature tick vectors. Virginia opossums are poor hosts for the pathogen and kill the vast majority of ticks that attempt to feed on them. Virginia Opossums however are absent from many low-diversity forest fragments and degraded forests, places where the mice are abundant. Along with a loss of biodiversity comes a loss of the species with the strongest disease buffering effect.
- Although the study does not discuss costs associated with an increased rate of disease transmission, it could be inferred that a decrease in biodiversity that leads to an increase in disease transmission will lead to increased medical costs, increasing the urgency of the need of local, regional, and global efforts to preserve natural ecosystems and the biodiversity they contain.
Last modified by Gayle Diehl