Submitted to: Meeting Abstract
Publication Type: Abstract Only
Publication Acceptance Date: 4/13/2004
Publication Date: 6/7/2004
Citation: Kutz, S., Appleyard, G., Jenkins, E., Scheer, A., Nagy, J., Veitch, A., Elkin, B., Cooley, D., Johnson, D., Hoberg, E.P. Assessing, predicting, and monitoring the impact of climate change on infectious diseases in caribou: what do we know and what do we need to know?. 10th North American Caribou Conference, Fairbanks, Alaska. Interpretive Summary:
Technical Abstract: Infectious disease in wildlife can have important clinical and sub-clinical effects on the health of individual animals and may influence the dynamics of entire populations. Many pathogens of wildlife have life stages that develop in the environment or require invertebrate vectors for transmission, and changes in environmental conditions are anticipated to alter the host-pathogen relationships. Global warming, one of the most important drivers of emergence of disease in people and animals, may have tremendous impacts on northern ecosystems where pathogens are typically constrained by the long cold winters and short, cool summers. Warming may relax some of these constraints and alter the epidemiology of pathogens. For example, research on an important lungworm of muskoxen, Umingmakstrongylus pallikuukensis, demonstrates that climate warming could reduce the two-year transmission cycle of this parasite to a single year cycle and may lead to an increase in infection levels and disease occurrence. Caribou across the North American mainland are infected with at least two potentially pathogenic parasites that are related to U. pallikuukensis, Parelaphostrongylus andersoni and an as yet unidentified Varestrongylus-like nematode. Climate warming is anticipated to impact the epidemiology of these, as well as other climate sensitive pathogens such as warbles and Besnoitia, with potentially detrimental effects on individual caribou and on populations. To understand, predict, monitor, and possibly mitigate the impact of climate change on infectious diseases in caribou it is essential to first address the numerous knowledge gaps with respect to the diversity, life cycles, geographic range, and effects of pathogens in this host. In this presentation I will use examples to demonstrate the possible effects of climate change on northern host-pathogen relationships and discuss a new initiative to identify and address vulnerabilities in the health of caribou with respect to climate change and infectious disease.