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      Urbanization and the ecology of wildlife diseases

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      Trends in Ecology & Evolution

      Elsevier Ltd.

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          Abstract

          Urbanization is intensifying worldwide, with two-thirds of the human population expected to reside in cities within 30 years. The role of cities in human infectious disease is well established, but less is known about how urban landscapes influence wildlife–pathogen interactions. Here, we draw on recent advances in wildlife epidemiology to consider how environmental changes linked with urbanization can alter the biology of hosts, pathogens and vectors. Although urbanization reduces the abundance of many wildlife parasites, transmission can, in some cases, increase among urban-adapted hosts, with effects on rarer wildlife or those living beyond city limits. Continued rapid urbanization, together with risks posed by multi-host pathogens for humans and vulnerable wildlife populations, emphasize the need for future research on wildlife diseases in urban landscapes.

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          Most cited references 52

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          Urbanization, Biodiversity, and Conservation

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            The ecology of infectious disease: effects of host diversity and community composition on Lyme disease risk.

            The extent to which the biodiversity and community composition of ecosystems affect their functions is an issue that grows ever more compelling as human impacts on ecosystems increase. We present evidence that supports a novel function of vertebrate biodiversity, the buffering of human risk of exposure to Lyme-disease-bearing ticks. We tested the Dilution Effect model, which predicts that high species diversity in the community of tick hosts reduces vector infection prevalence by diluting the effects of the most competent disease reservoir, the ubiquitous white-footed mouse (Peromyscus leucopus). As habitats are degraded by fragmentation or other anthropogenic forces, some members of the host community disappear. Thus, species-poor communities tend to have mice, but few other hosts, whereas species-rich communities have mice, plus many other potential hosts. We demonstrate that the most common nonmouse hosts are relatively poor reservoirs for the Lyme spirochete and should reduce the prevalence of the disease by feeding, but rarely infecting, ticks. By accounting for nearly every host species' contribution to the number of larval ticks fed and infected, we show that as new host species are added to a depauperate community, the nymphal infection prevalence, a key risk factor, declines. We identify important "dilution hosts" (e.g., squirrels), characterized by high tick burdens, low reservoir competence, and high population density, as well as "rescue hosts" (e.g., shrews), which are capable of maintaining high disease risk when mouse density is low. Our study suggests that the preservation of vertebrate biodiversity and community composition can reduce the incidence of Lyme disease.
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              Spatial epidemiology: an emerging (or re-emerging) discipline.

              Spatial epidemiology is the study of spatial variation in disease risk or incidence. Several ecological processes can result in strong spatial patterns of such risk or incidence: for example, pathogen dispersal might be highly localized, vectors or reservoirs for pathogens might be spatially restricted, or susceptible hosts might be clumped. Here, we briefly describe approaches to spatial epidemiology that are spatially implicit, such as metapopulation models of disease transmission, and then focus on research in spatial epidemiology that is spatially explicit, such as the creation of risk maps for particular geographical areas. Although the spatial dynamics of infectious diseases are the subject of intensive study, the impacts of landscape structure on epidemiological processes have so far been neglected. The few studies that demonstrate how landscape composition (types of elements) and configuration (spatial positions of those elements) influence disease risk or incidence suggest that a true integration of landscape ecology with epidemiology will be fruitful.
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                Author and article information

                Contributors
                Journal
                Trends Ecol Evol
                Trends Ecol. Evol. (Amst.)
                Trends in Ecology & Evolution
                Elsevier Ltd.
                0169-5347
                1872-8383
                20 November 2006
                February 2007
                20 November 2006
                : 22
                : 2
                : 95-102
                Affiliations
                Institute of Ecology, University of Georgia, Athens, GA 30602, USA
                Article
                S0169-5347(06)00364-8
                10.1016/j.tree.2006.11.001
                7114918
                17113678
                Copyright © 2006 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.

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                Ecology

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