Disease, habitat fragmentation and conservation

Hamish McCallum, Andy Dobson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

193 Scopus citations

Abstract

Habitat loss and the resultant fragmentation of remaining habitat is the primary cause of loss of biological diversity. How do these processes affect the dynamics of parasites and pathogens? Hess has provided some important insights into this problem using metapopulation models for pathogens that exhibit 'S-I' dynamics; for example, pathogens such as rabies in which the host population may be divided into susceptible and infected individuals. A major assumption of Hess's models is that infected patches become extinct, rather than recovering and becoming resistant to future infections. In this paper, we build upon this framework in two different ways: first, we examine the consequences of including patches that are resistant to infection; second, we examine the consequences of including a second species of host that can act as a reservoir for the pathogen. Both of these effects are likely to be important from a conservation perspective. The results of both sets of analysis indicate that the benefits of corridors and other connections that allow species to disperse through the landscape far outweigh the possible risks of increased pathogen transmission. Even in the commonest case, where harmful pathogens are maintained by a common reservoir host, increased landscape connectance still allows greater coexistence and persistence of a threatened or endangered host.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2041-2049
Number of pages9
JournalProceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences
Volume269
Issue number1504
DOIs
StatePublished - Oct 7 2002

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)
  • Immunology and Microbiology(all)
  • Environmental Science(all)
  • Agricultural and Biological Sciences(all)

Keywords

  • Conservation
  • Habitat loss
  • Metapopulation
  • Pathogens
  • Reservoir species

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