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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

Title: The Historical Biogeographical Arena of Emerging Diseases: Evolutionary Accidents Waiting to Happen.

Authors
item Brooks, Daniel - U TORONTO, ONTARIO, CA
item Hoberg, Eric

Submitted to: Journal of Biogeography
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: September 7, 2005
Publication Date: January 17, 2006
Citation: Brooks, D.R., Hoberg, E.P. 2006. The historical biogeographical arena of emerging diseases: evolutionary accidents waiting to happen. Journal of Biogeography. 92:426-429.

Interpretive Summary: The biodiversity crisis is commonly seen strictly as one of habitat destruction and extinction. However, it is also a crisis of introduced species, altered ecologies, and emerging diseases. To date, human, livestock, and wildlife health managers have dealt with Emerging Infectious Diseases (hereafter EID) in crisis-response mode. If EIDs are likely to be rare phenomena, such response may well be time- and cost-effective. If they are common, however, crisis response will be ineffective, because it will never generate the information necessary for proactive response. In this contribution we wish to explore two schools of thought about the nature of host-parasite associations and coevolution, one of which leads to an expectation that EIDs should be rare, the other to an expectation that they should be common. The good news is that if EIDs are a common feature of biogeographic dispersal and its associated influences on trophic structure, we can hope to understand the contemporary EID crisis and learn from the lessons of (evolutionary) history, moving from being ignorant-reactive to being informed-proactive. In that regard, our lack of a comprehensive taxonomic inventory of pathogen on this planet, and of phylogenetic assessments of their coevolutionary and biogeographic histories, are major hindrances to dealing with the current EID crisis. Society, through its public, wildlife, and livestock health managers must decided whether to expend its funds continuing to manage the EID crisis or to solve it.

Technical Abstract: The biodiversity crisis is commonly seen strictly as one of habitat destruction and extinction. However, it is also a crisis of introduced species, altered ecologies, and emerging diseases. To date, human, livestock, and wildlife health managers have dealt with Emerging Infectious Diseases (hereafter EID) in crisis-response mode. If EIDs are likely to be rare phenomena, such response may well be time- and cost-effective. If they are common, however, crisis response will be ineffective, because it will never generate the information necessary for proactive response. In this contribution we wish to explore two schools of thought about the nature of host-parasite associations and coevolution, one of which leads to an expectation that EIDs should be rare, the other to an expectation that they should be common.

Last Modified: 9/22/2014
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