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Study identifies biodiversity loss as the leading cause of infectious disease outbreaks

by | 09 May 24 | Nature & Biodiversity, News | 0 comments

Biodiversity loss has been found to be the biggest environmental driver of infectious disease outbreaks, making them higher risk and more widespread, a new study has found. 

Often originating in wildlife, the rise in infectious diseases has been found to have ‘significant’ correlation to socioeconomic, environmental and ecological factors.

In a new meta-analysis, published in the journal Nature, researchers identified biodiversity loss as the greatest contributor to the rising risk of outbreaks – followed by climate change and the introduction of non-native species. 

The study focused on five ‘global change drivers’ – biodiversity loss, climate change, chemical pollution, non-native species, and habitat loss. Researchers found that all except habitat loss increases disease spread – results remained the same across human and non-human diseases. 

It was found that urbanisation also decreased the spread, with lead researcher, Professor Jason Rohr from the University of Notre Dame in the US, saying: “In urban areas with lots of concrete, there is a much smaller number of species that can thrive in that environment. From a human disease perspective, there is often greater sanitation and health infrastructure than in rural environments.”

The team adds that by reducing emissions and biodiversity loss, as well as preventing invasive species, could help in lowering the impact of diseases. 

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