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Forests and emerging infectious diseases: Unleashing the beast within

  • Guégan, Jean-François
  • Ayouba, Ahidjo
  • Cappelle, Julien
  • De Thoisy, Benoit
Publication Date
Jan 01, 2020
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Deforestation and associated changing landscapes are major components of environmental changes, with important implications for ecosystem functioning and biodiversity conservation. Tropical forests are hot-spots of biodiversity, and also an important source of new potential emerging microbial threats to human. While forests provide multiple goods and ecosystem services which benefit people in many ways, they also play an important role in health-related legends, myths, and fairy tales from all over the world. Although plausibly numerous abundant microbial forms may exist with a forest origin, our systematic literature review shows that forest-derived infection studies are relatively unexplored and both taxonomically and geographically biased through time. Since biodiversity has been associated with emergence of novel infectious diseases at macro-scale, we describe the main biogeographical patterns in the emerging infection-biodiversity-forest loss nexus. Then, we illustrate four fine-scale case studies to decipher the underlying processes of increased infection risk in changing forest clearing landscapes. Finally, we identify scientific challenges and regional management measures required to mitigate these important emerging threats.

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