Exploring the role of predators in keeping pathogens at bay
Lyme disease, bubonic plague, and hantavirus pulmonary syndrome--all potentially serious disease threats to people--are carried by non-human vertebrates, most often rodents, who are the host species for a plethora of pathogens. Recent outbreaks of Monkeypox and Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome have generated fresh concern about how pathogens move from non-human carriers to people. The paper, "Are predators good for your health? Evaluating evidence for top-down regulation of zoonotic disease reservoirs," appears in this months issue of the Ecological Society of Americas journal Frontiers in Ecology and the Environment and explores the role of predators in curbing disease outbreaks in humans.
Authors Richard Ostfeld (Institute of Ecosystem Studies) and Robert Holt (University of Florida) found that different predator types influence rodent populations in a range of ways, with some very effectively regulating rodent numbers while other predators actually cause periodic rodent population booms.
Nadine Lymn | EurekAlert!
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