Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Biodiversity and better health


Biodiversity is a hot topic in conservation circles these days.  It’s becoming more and more obvious that we may be in the middle of a mass extinction event, and the first one that’s caused by humans.  Check out this video for a refresher on mass extinctions.

In previous posts we’ve defined biodiversity and why it’s important.  Now a couple of new reports show some of the direct effects that a loss of biodiversity has on humans.  Sarah DeWeerdt recently reported in Conservation Magazine on a study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences which demonstrates the “dilution effect” of biodiversity – increased biodiversity helps to “dilute” the prevalence of parasites and pathogens.

And even closer to home, NPR had an interesting story about bird diversity and West Nile virus.  Greater bird diversity, and fewer “reservoir hosts” for the pathogen, can help to decrease the occurrence of West Nile virus. 

So conserving biodiversity isn’t just for the tree huggers and bird watchers – there are practical applications for anyone who doesn’t like getting sick!

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