More species means less disease

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Des moustiques qui sont potentielement vecteur du virus du Nil occidental aux USA © David McNew/Getty Images/AFP

Conserving biodiversity while reducing contact with humans can limit the spread of pathogens

Biodiversity protects ecosystems against infectious diseases, researchers have concluded. The finding suggests that loss of species from an environment could have dangerous consequences for the spread and incidence of infections, including those that affect humans.

Felicia Keesing, a biologist at Bard College in Annandale, New York, and her colleagues reviewed several dozen studies published in the past five years and found that the link holds true across various ecosystems, pathogens and hosts. “A pattern is emerging which shows that biodiversity loss increases disease transmission,” says Keesing, whose study is published today in Nature.

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