One extinction leads to another…. And then what happens?



Worldwide, 97 of more than 280 carnivores are on the IUCN Red List of Endangered Species. These carnivores host parasites and diseases, some that are specialists and others that are generalists and can infect many different species of host. One of those alternate hosts can be humans. In a recent modeling study of 29 carnivore species in North America, Nyeema Harris, a postdoc at the University of California at Berkeley, along with Rob Dunn of North Carolina State University, found that the local loss of a carnivore species could change the distribution of parasites and disease that infect humans. In particular, the loss of wide-ranging carnivores, such as red foxes and coyotes, decreased the diversity of parasites, which in turn increased the risk of transmission to humans. This public health risk provides yet another reason to continue conservation efforts to preserve wildlife species.

For more details, see the article I wrote in American Scientist on Harris’s work. I also briefly covered her talk at ESA 2013, which made my list of favorites.


One extinction leads to another…. And then what happens? — 1 Comment

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