• Bruce Smith

Biodiversity and Disease Spillover

In a recent post, I discussed how humans have been infecting free-roaming wildlife and zoo animals with Covid 19. These are cases of a zoonotic disease “spilling over” from humans to animals. As such, animal populations (domestic, captive, and wild) can and do serve as reservoirs for infectious disease that may spill back to humans. In response to the pandemic caused by SARS-CoV-2, spillover of zoonotic diseases has received much research attention around the world. One such study in Montana seeks to understand how viral loads in populations of deer mice (Peromyscus maniculatus) are influenced by biodiversity, positively or negatively. One of the Montana study’s scientists noted, “Evidence is mounting that biodiversity dilutes disease. As we lose biodiversity, we see greater disease prevalence.”

     Although many factors may interact to influence disease dynamics, one thing is clear. Intact natural ecosystems foster resilience.